Owner occupiers no longer make up the biggest chunk of Hastings’ housing stock.
A recent report commissioned by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) shows that private rented accommodation now makes up 38 per cent of the housing in Hastings and that’s double the national average.
Other changes within Hastings show that while the proportion of private rented accommodation has gone up in all council wards, in wards where this was traditionally highest – Castle and Central St Leonards in particular – the increase has been the least, in those wards owner occupation has gone up.
In wards where private renting was lowest, it’s increased the most – Ashdown for example, where it has gone up by almost 600 per cent since 2001.
Peter Chowney, leader of HBC says: “There are probably a number of factors at play here. Increases in private ownership in the town centre wards is an indicator of regeneration – and arguably gentrification – in these areas.
“Increases in private rented accommodation in the ‘outer’ wards could in part be down to landlords trying to escape the SLS by buying properties in wards that aren’t subject to it, and in part because the cost of properties in the town centre wards is going up faster than in the outer wards.
“While it’s probably a good thing that private rented housing is being spread more evenly across the borough, the fact that more rented homes are not subject to the regulation, safety checks and tenancy agreement checks that the SLS affords is worrying.
“The SLS is a flawed scheme, and was difficult to set up – the government only allows the scheme to apply to areas where there is evidence of anti-social behaviour by tenants, when the real purpose of the scheme is to control bad landlords and ensure decent standards in rented homes.
“The scheme runs for five years and has so far licensed over 7,000 properties. After that, we can attempt to extend it, but there’s no guarantee that the government will agree to that, nor that they’ll agree to renew the scheme at all. What’s needed is a proper statutory private rented licensing scheme that applies across the whole country – but there are no proposals for that at the moment.”