Difficult to let housing association stock in England: Property, management and context

Hal Pawson, Ade Kearns

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Problems related to unpopular housing are not new in Britain's social rented sector. In the past, however, these have generally been associated with housing provided directly by the state through local authorities. For many, the term 'difficult to let' has become synonymous with large, ageing, poor quality estates managed under a centralised framework and subject to a long period of low investment and indifferent management. There has also been a long-standing assumption that social housing allocations systems tend to channel the most vulnerable tenants into the least desirable housing. In fact, the problem of difficult to let property is now as pervasive in the not-for-profit sector managed by housing associations as it is within council housing. In many cases the developments affected are small in scale and, in a significant proportion of cases, recently constructed. In explaining why property becomes difficult to let, the local and regional context is clearly important. The balance between social, economic and housing demand circumstances and property and estate characteristics varies between regions. There is relatively little evidence that difficult to let housing association properties are occupied by disproportionate numbers of the most severely disadvantaged tenants and this suggests that something has happened to modify the segregating effects of allocations systems observed in earlier studies. Nevertheless, this apparent change must be seen within the context of the general trend towards a residual role for social housing in its entirety. The social class and income range of new social sector tenants now is much diminished by comparison with earlier decades with few distinctions between the occupiers of difficult to let and other housing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)391-414
    Number of pages24
    JournalHousing Studies
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 1998


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