Two housing-related charitable organisations have collaborated to fund a major UK-wide research programme in order to improve standards in the private rented sector (PRS).
TDS Charitable Foundation (TDSCF) and the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust (SDSCT) have jointly awarded funding of just under £300,000 over three years to the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) – a consortium of 14 institutions led by the University of Glasgow.
With similar remits, both TDSCF and SDSCT aim to raise standards in the PRS by advancing education on housing rights and obligations.
In the first year of the programme, the CaCHE plans to carry out research projects on resolving disputes, tackling low standards and protecting tenancy deposits. A scoping document will be published in the coming weeks.
The research will try to tackle three issues. The first is to take a global look at dispute resolution and to examine the principles, practices and approaches that could be applied to UK housing contexts to make it easier for landlords and tenants to resolve disputes.
The CaCHE team will then turn to tackling low standards in the PRS and explore the challenges that local authorities across the UK have in enforcing PRS legislation, as well as possibilities for future improvement.
Lastly, researchers will examine the discrepancy across the UK between the number of PRS tenancies and the number of protected deposits. Despite legislation, evidence suggests that a significant number of deposits are currently not legally protected. Therefore, CaCHE will aim to identify measures to ensure that more deposits are protected.
Professor Martin Partington, chair of the TDS Charitable Foundation, commented: “We’ve been running the Foundation since 2014 and have awarded hundreds and thousands of pounds of grants to the likes of the National Union of Students and the Centre for Sustainable Energy.”
Partington said the Foundation’s trustees, along with those of its sister organisation – SDSCT – felt that it could do more to tackle the underlying issues within the private rented sector by working collaboratively.
Chair of SDSCT, John Duff, added: “The money awarded to CaCHE researchers is the first time the Trust and Foundation have made a combined grant, and represents the largest amount each organisation has given to a single body. By making this major grant to CaCHE we hope to provide a body of research to help policymakers and practitioners make decisions based on reliable and accurate evidence.”
Dr Jennifer Harris, senior research associate for CaCHE, explained: “Debate continues over how policy can most effectively respond to changes in the private rented sector and this TDSCF/SDSCT-funded research programme will produce findings that are relevant to the challenges, policy responses and nature of the PRS across the UK.”
TDSCF is funded mainly by donations from The Dispute Service (TDS), while SDSCT is funded by SafeDeposits Scotland from surpluses the scheme generates over and above the costs of running its business. Both TDS and its sister organisation SafeDeposit Scotland operate on a not-for-profit basis.
Since its launch in 2014, TDSCF has made grants totalling £851,882.33 (including the CaCHE funding). Meanwhile, SDSCT has been in operation since 2016 and has made grants of £272,745.
The total awarded funding to CaCHE is £295,521 over a three-year period. Approximately one third of funding will come from SDS Trust and two thirds from TDSCF.