On February 8th 2018, Heather Wheeler, the Minister for Housing and Homelessness at DCLG, met with senior figures from the main organisations representing landlords and agents in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). They discussed future legislative changes and what the Government should be prioritising.
Present at the meeting were representatives from:
- The National Landlords’ Association (NLA)
- The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark)
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
- The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), and
- The Residential Landlords Association (RLA)
The Government first laid out its new plans to tackle the UK’s housing crisis in last February’s Housing White Paper. Given that the PRS currently houses more than 20% of UK households and overtook the social rented sector some years ago, this meeting was a welcome and long-overdue acknowledgement of the role it plays.
Many landlords feel that regulation over recent years has been ‘against’ them, benefiting tenants but resulting in increased costs and hassle for decent landlords, with no real upside from their perspective. At the same time, the tax burden has been increasing for most, so it is important for the Government to now encourage landlords to help them meet the rising demand for good rented accommodation.
It was clear that both the industry and Government are keen to see a fair regulatory regime. That means continuing to raise standards and make it increasingly difficult for those breaking the law to operate, while supporting good landlords and agents in the running of their business.
Some of the key points discussed in the meeting included:
- Impending regulation of letting agents – which may come into force in the next few years
- Increased enforcement activity to tackle rogue agents and landlords, who continue to give the law-abiding majority and the industry a bad name
- The introduction of a specialised Housing Court, to ensure access to justice can be swifter and less expensive for both landlords and tenants. This is seen as particularly important if the industry is to move ahead with longer tenancies, as many landlords are worried about being locked into a tenancy and struggling to regain possession of their property if tenants fail to pay their rent or are committing anti-social behaviour.
- Incentivising landlords to offer a wider range of tenancies to cater for increasingly varied demand from tenants
- The proposed ban on letting fees, likely to be introduced in spring 2019.
Overall, the PRS is encouraging the Government to think more strategically, so there is an integrated strategy that fits with their wider efforts to deliver more new housing across the board.Following the meeting, a Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector and want to support good landlords and agents to comply with their responsibilities. We will be introducing banning orders in April to make it easier for local authorities to act against rogue landlords and agents, we will be requiring all letting agents to meet minimum standards and are consulting with the judiciary on the case for a housing court. We are grateful to private rented sector organisations for their constructive input to date and are committed to working with them as this important agenda continues.”
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