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Today in politics: ONS data, HMOs and Liverpool licensing

Today we examine the latest ONS statistics, MP questions on HMO planning rules and Liverpool licensing.

ONS: PRS rents up by less than inflation

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices for the UK for January 2020. 

It says: 

  • Private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK rose by 1.5% in the 12 months to January 2020, up from 1.4% in December 2019.
  • Excluding London, rental prices for the UK increased by 1.6% in the year to January 2020, up from 1.5% in December 2019.
  • Private rental prices grew by 1.5% in England, 1.3% in Wales, and by 0.6% in Scotland in the 12 months to January 2020.
  • When London is excluded from England, privately rented properties increased by 1.7% in the 12 months to January 2020
  • London private rental prices rose by 1.3% in the 12 months to January 2020.
  • In the English regions, the largest annual rental price increase in the 12 months to January 2020 was in the South West at 2.3%, up from 2.2% in December 2019. This was followed by the East Midlands at 2.2%. The lowest annual rental price growth was in the North East, where prices increased by 0.6% in the 12 months to January 2020, followed by the North West, which increased by 1.1%.
  • Focusing on the long-term trend, between January 2015 and December 2019, private rental prices in the UK increased by 8.6%.

By way of contrast, inflation in the 12 months to January 2020 was:

  • 1.8% as measured by CPI(H) which includes owner occupiers’ housing costs
  • 1.8% as measured by CPI
  • 2.7% as measured by RPI

Government quizzed on HMO planning rules

Paul Bristow MP (Conservative, Peterborough) has received a response to his written question asking what powers are available to local authorities to prevent family homes being turned into houses of multiple occupation.

The Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher MP, responded by outlining the planning rules around changing the use of properties in such a way, details of which can be found here.

Labour MP demands answers over Liverpool licensing

Ian Byrne MP (Labour, Liverpool West Derby) has received a response to his written question asking for what reason MHCLG did not extend the landlord licensing scheme in Liverpool; and what steps the Department is taking to ensure the protection of tenants in the private rental sector in the city, in particular his West Derby constituency.

The Housing Minister responded: 

“Liverpool City Council made an application for selective licensing under the condition of low housing demand across the whole city.

“The evidence provided by the local authority was carefully considered against all the relevant statutory conditions, including those contained within section 80(4) of the Housing Act 2004. 

“The application did not meet the statutory tests because it did not sufficiently evidence the existence of low housing demand in every ward in the city, nor that every ward in the city would become an area of low housing demand. 

“Selective licensing is part of wider robust enforcement powers available to councils to protect vulnerable tenants, tackle rogue landlords and support responsible landlords in the private rented sector, including civil penalties and banning orders for the most serious offences.”


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