Nine: A variety of rents


Landlords see rents as income and, consequently, as a most important part of housing management. Tenants often have a more complicated view, especially if they are tenants of local authorities and housing associations. Yet in some past protests about expensive rents the interests of tenants have seemed very similar, whoever the landlord.

It is easy to see the issue of rents in a completely ahistorical way, devoid of political and economic context. In this chapter, the issue of rents will be examined more broadly than usual, identifying where conflicts over rents have led to change. Rent strikes and campaigning are largely ‘hidden from history’ in housing finance. This chapter is an attempt to begin to redress the balance. Arguably, this perspective will be most relevant in the years ahead.

This chapter moves from general points to looking at the different ways in which rents have been established in the private sector, local authorities and housing associations. It ends with consideration of ‘rent convergence’ between local authorities and housing associations and the likely prospects for more expensive ‘affordable rents’. In this chapter the themes are:

  • what is rent? – from the landlord’s and tenant’s perspective;

  • the private rented sector – from controlled to market rents;

  • local authority rents – from independence to rent restructuring;

  • housing associations – cost rents, fair rents, assured rents, ‘affordable rents’?

  • rent convergence between local authorities and housing associations;

  • changing principles for rents over time;

  • the ‘affordable rent’ and its prospects.

‘Rent’ is a financial sum that is set by the landlord for a flat, a house or a room in a house.

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