Decrease in number of social lettings

The number of lettings to social rent homes fell again last year and is now almost 25 per cent below its peak of six years ago, as more use was made of the higher ‘affordable rents’ regime which charities and campaingers claim are too expensive for low income households.

This trend may be about to change as a small but growing number of housing associations are reversing their use of affordable rents, and are letting all their properties on the lower social rents. These include L&Q and Housing 21.

In total there were 306,000 new social housing lettings in the year to April 2020, a decrease of 2.5 per cent or 8,000 lets from the previous year. This continues the fall from the peak of 396,000 new social housing lettings

in 2013/14 (a 23 per cent decrease) after a temporary flattening last year. This was driven by social rent tenancies, which make up the majority of new lets, while use of Affordable Rent products rose.

Overall, new social housing lettings decreased by 17 per cent while stock increased by 3 per cent over the past decade. 59 per cent of new social housing lettings in 2019/20 were to tenants not in social housing immediately prior. Other facts of note on last year’s lettings, are:

  • There were 1.15 million households on local authority waiting lists at 31 March 2020, a slight decrease of 1 per cent from 1.16 million in 2018/19;
  • Over half of households (58 per cent) with a new social letting in 2019/20 were on the waiting list in that area for less than a year;
  • 18 per cent of new lettings in 2019/20 were to statutory homeless households;
  • Lifetime tenancies comprised nearly three-quarters of new social lettings in 2019/20, mostly let by councils;
  • Employment in lead tenants of new General Needs lettings steadily increased from 32 to 40 per cent between 2008/09 and 2019/20;
  • In Supported Housing, lead tenants unable to work due to long term ill- ness or disability increased from 17 to 23 per cent over the same period; and
  • Households in a new social letting in 2019/20 paid an average rent of £81 per week.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor