Improving experiences for private renters in Southampton will take “time and commitment” with no “quick-fix solutions”, an inquiry has concluded.

Councillors have produced a series of recommendations on what can be done by local authority leaders and partners to tackle some of the problems.

While taking the action proposed would bring positive change, it has been warned this would not address the “underpinning challenges”.

Scrutiny manager Mark Pirnie said there was a “complexity of issues at play” in the sector which provides homes for 29 per cent of the city’s population – more than the number in council housing.

“Nationally there is a housing crisis and many of the levers that could deliver better outcomes are not within the gift of individual cities or councils to address and these include a myriad of factors, such as interest rates, taxation policy, house prices, national housing policy and bills before parliament,” Mr Pirnie said.

The city council’s ‘How do we get a better deal for private sector renters in Southampton?’ report contained a “fairly limited” number of recommendations.

Mr Pirnie said this was because the focus was put on factors the council and its partners could influence.

The recommendations included:

  • Committing to facilitating 8,000 new affordable homes in Southampton by 2040
  • Commissioning a private sector housing conditions survey
  • Identifying opportunities to use the full range of enforcement powers available to the council

Mr Pirnie told members of the inquiry panel: “The report concludes that private renting in the city faces a serious access, affordability and security of tenure crisis, which is impacting the wellbeing and quality of life for people in Southampton and playing a major role in creating homelessness.

“As rents continue to rise without accompanying improvements in housing quality and the supply of rental properties tightens, access and affordability continue to be a serious challenge for residents in Southampton.”

The officer said most landlords and agents treated tenants fairly, providing good quality and safe homes.

The inquiry held a series of sessions since it first met in November to explore the issues in the private rental sector.

It received representations from Southampton Tenants Union, landlord associations, academics and leaders at other local authorities.

Mr Pirnie said the Renters Reform Bill, which is currently going through parliament, presented a “genuine opportunity” to address some of the challenges private renters face in Southampton.

The council's executive now needs to respond to the conclusions.