Private rental market grows by nearly a quarter in part of Oxfordshire

There's been a big jump in the number of privately rented homes in one part of Oxfordshire - as ministers reveal measures to improve tenants' rights. The Government's "fairer private rented sector" White Paper published on Thursday (June 16) sets out plans to improve living conditions for private renters in England. There are 11 million people who rely on private landlords for their homes across the country, according to housing charity Shelter, although there is a lack of data on where they are locally.

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 58,954 privately rented dwellings in Oxfordshire in 2020, a 14.9% rise from 51,322 in 2012. In Vale of White Horse, the figure rose by 24.2% over the period, from 7,909 to 9,826, or 16.4% of all dwellings in the area, including privately owned and social rented homes. That was the seventh-highest increase of hundreds of areas across England.

In Oxford, the number rose less steeply by 7.1%, from 16,384 to 17,546, although at 29.6% of all homes that was the highest proportion in the county. One of the significant pledges in the White Paper is to ban "no-fault" section 21 evictions that allow landlords to end tenancies without giving any reason, something the Government first committed to scrap in April 2019. Read more: Oxfordshire County Council pledges to keep replacing Oxford's vandalised LTN bollards

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show that, between April 2019 and the end of last year, 225 households across Oxfordshire were deemed to need help with homelessness by their council after being handed a no-fault eviction notice. However, this is likely to underrepresent the issue as not everyone who receives a no-fault eviction will approach their local authority for help. Across England, there were around 4.9 million privately rented dwellings as of March 2021, according to the latest DLUHC figures - 19.6% of all homes.

Between April 2019 and December 2021, more than 40,000 households across the nation were deemed to need help with homelessness by their council due to a no-fault eviction notice. The Government's measures, which will form part of the Renters Reform Bill, include plans to force landlords to improve substandard homes that pose a health risk to tenants. There are also proposals to end unjustified rent increases, stop landlords from refusing to rent to families with children or benefit claimants, and make it easier for renters to have pets.

Announcing the measures, Levelling Up and Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: "For too long many private renters have been at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who fail to repair homes and let families live in damp, unsafe and cold properties, with the threat of unfair 'no fault' eviction orders hanging over them. Our New Deal for renters will help to end this injustice by improving the rights and conditions for millions of renters as we level up across the country and deliver on the people's priorities." Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the Bill was a "gamechanger" for England's private renters.

She added: "Scrapping unfair evictions will level the playing field. "For the first time in a long time, tenants will be able to stand up to bad behaviour instead of living in fear. This White Paper promises people safety and security in their home, and it makes clear that landlords need to play by the rules.

"Gone will be the days of families being uprooted and children forced to move school after being slapped with a Section 21 no-fault eviction for no good reason. As these plans move through Parliament, they've got to keep their teeth to drive up standards and professionalise private renting. "For every renter trapped in a never-ending nightmare of moving from one shoddy rental to the next, the Renters' Reform Bill cannot come soon enough."

Alicia Kennedy, director of campaign group Generation Rent, also welcomed the proposals but said she was "disappointed" that the rules around no-fault evictions would allow landlords to evict tenants to sell or move family in. She added: "The government proposals still mean a renter could be evicted every eight months due to no fault of their own."

In numbers

Private rented dwellings (2012 and 2020) and households deemed in need of homelessness help by council due to no-fault eviction notices (April 2019 to December 2021), by council area Area // Private rented dwellings (2012) // Private rented dwellings (2020) // % change in private rented dwellings // Private rented dwellings as % of all dwellings (2012) // Private rented dwellings as % of all dwellings (2020) // No-fault eviction households (Apr 2019-Dec 2021)

Vale of White Horse // 7,909 // 9,826 // 24.2% // 15.4 // 16.4 // 58
Cherwell // 10,717 // 12,656 // 18.1% // 18.1 // 18.7 // 22
South Oxfordshire // 8,648 // 10,125 // 17.1% // 15.1 // 15.9 // 56
West Oxfordshire // 7,664 // 8,801 // 14.8% // 16.7 // 17.6 // 26
Oxford // 16,384 // 17,546 // 7.1% // 28.5 // 29.6 // 63

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