Westminster council seeks views on a new private rented sector strategy

The City of Westminster has the largest private rented sector in England with an estimated 52,700 properties making up 43 percent of all its housing.

Map showing density of private rented sector in Westminster.
Westminster’s private rented homes are concentrated in central and north western areas of the city. Source: Westminster City Council: Private Rented Sector: Housing Stock Condition and Stressors Report, August 2019.

The sector has grown over the last decade, both in numbers and as a proportion of all housing in the city — up from 41,900 properties, 40 percent of housing in 2011.

Private rented homes are concentrated in the central and north western areas of the city.

Westminster council is now seeking the public’s views on a new private rented sector strategy and has produced a draft document for consultation.

The council says that private renting is “becoming a longer term tenure for many, given the cost of buying and the high demand for social housing”.

The strategy focuses predominantly on what it is possible for the council to do to support the sector, using its legal powers, duties and relationships, rather than on areas that are beyond its control. However, some proposals for wider change are included.

Due to Covid-19 the demand for private-rented homes could fall if people move away from central London to work remotely or due to an economic downturn.

However, the council warns that the supply of private rented homes could also fall if landlords leave the market and homes are sold for owner occupation. “Landlords could sell due to financial pressures resulting from increased rent arrears, void rates and falling property values. The central London private-rented sector has had lower rates of return than in other parts of London, but higher capital appreciation,” states the draft strategy.

Private Rented Sector Strategy consultation. The consultation for the private rented sector strategy closes on Sunday 25 October 2020.