It’s even more impressive when you realise it’s the view from the front of a 3 bed North Devon Council House on Worth Road in Ilfracombe as below.
Not many social housing properties will have views like this, but it’s a view many prospective owners and private renters ineligible for ‘social housing’ nearby will pay very handsomely for. Yet there are two similar social housing properties with uninspiring views currently on the DevonHomeChoice listings at the very same rent per week.
Is it time to release the shackle on social housing rents that is ‘rent restructuring’ and move towards a market based approach which mirrors valuation methodologies of homes for sale and private rents? Properties in well managed and maintained neighbourhoods or with good views like this could attract premium rents. Others would need to have rents adjusted based on demand. If demand is low, or the property or even neighbourhood poorly managed/maintained, rents would need to reflect what people are prepared to pay. Not some abstract Whitehall construed formula based on valuations of properties in 2001, average incomes, and the number of bedrooms as is currently the case, and which many landlords have not managed to implement fully yet.
The NHF recently called for HA’s to be free to set their own rents, and as L&Q CE David Montague recently outlined, rent policy at the moment is based on the luck of the draw anyway. Those who say it will be inequitable to charge differential rents please do read the link above - the inequity of neighbours in the same properties paying different rents is already happening depending on when they got their tenancy. Pay to stay proposals will extend these differentials on the basis of tenant’s income. Is it OK to charge a higher rent based on high income, but not a lower rent based on lower incomes or demand?
Setting rents based on demand could be as transparent as you can get for customers. Some winners, some losers – depending on the emphasis given to ‘social returns’ on investment by their landlords. And that's the tip of the iceberg of potential benefits: freeing up higher returns on assets to deliver more new homes, better Vfm, and socially responsible commercial approaches etc?
Even if you don't agree, at the very least, this view from Worth Road could be a contender in a 'best view from social housing in the UK' photo competition?
About the Author
Peter Hall is MD of PHHS: follow him via @Phhsl
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