A report into the failings of the private rented sector backed by leading political and industry figures has recommended that landlords should be regulated in the same way as financial services and utility companies are, and proposes a raft of wide-ranging reforms and initiatives.

This includes empowering renters, better enforcement of their consumer rights and increased protection of tenants from unscrupulous landlords and letting agents.

The 42-page Consumer Rights in the Private Rented Sector report includes calls for mandatory licensing of all landlords in England, a code of conduct and even enabling local authorities to confiscate properties.

It also proposes a single law to replace the 140+ pieces that currently govern the PRS.

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The key recommendations are:

  • Mandatory registration for English landlords and agents.
  • Stronger banning orders including property confiscation.
  • A Private Renters Panel to represent tenants in policy making.
  • A separate regulator for the PRS.
  • Reform of redress and dispute resolution by introducing mandatory membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service for private rented sector landlords and lettings agents.
  • An open-ended, flexible tenancy to replace ASTs.
  • Make landlords provider better tenancy info to tenants.
  • Set up a nationwide renting information hub.
  • Bring the industry together via a National Private Rented Sector Reference Group.
  • Introduce a Private Renting Quality Standard.
  • Review current deposit providers and consider a National Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Meera Chindooroy (picture, right), Deputy Director of Campaigns, Public Affairs & Policy at the NRLA, tells LandlordZONE: Landlords are providing a service and renters are their consumers. But being a tenant also comes with responsibilities – to look after the property, to behave appropriately without harming neighbours and co-tenants, to pay the rent, and to let the landlord know when repairs are needed.

“It’s important that tenants feel able to raise concerns about their homes with their landlord, and that both tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

“We would welcome streamlined regulation in the sector and a clearer policy direction around the role of the private rented sector within the housing mix.

“We are in principle supportive of the concept of a proportionate landlord register, and have been working with others in the industry on the concept of linking this to a ‘property MOT’ which would enable tenants and local authorities to immediate see whether a property is up to standard, at a low cost.

Landlord and tenants

“The Government has also made clear that landlords will be required to register with a redress scheme in future. This will help to formalise the framework within which the relationship between landlords and tenants exists,” she adds.

“When considering regulation of the private rented sector, we have to recognise that there are 1.5-2 million landlords, the vast majority with just one or two properties, and this is not the same as regulating utilities or financial services. Regulation must be proportionate and appropriate to the needs of the sector, and work for all parties.”

Its author Lewis Shand Smith says: “Legislation is fragmented, landlord registration patchy, monitoring and enforcement is weak, routes to complaining limited and access to free and independent redress absent for most renters in the PRS.

“We propose therefore that there should be a Private Rented Sector Act, consolidating the plethora of legislation that already exists and building on it.”

John Healey (right), former shadow housing minister, says: “People who rent from a private landlord are at the sharp end of the housing crisis, but the truth is we have often more rights as consumers when we rent a car, buy a fridge-freezer or take out a loan than we do as private renters.

“This report doesn’t pretend to provide a comprehensive set of prescriptions for the private rented sector, but it does provide a strikingly fresh perspective which I hope will provide food for thought for politicians in Westminster and beyond.”

Read the report, which has been funded by The Smith Institute, in full.


13 COMMENTS

  1. As a responsible Landlord, I welcome streamlining and regulation, yet I see no protection or support for landlords that are taken advantage of by tenants not paying rent, unsociable behaviour and not respecting the property. Equitable policy is needed to protect tenants and landlords. The alternative is that accidental landlords and those with small portfolios (e.g. kept for pension income) will be forced to leave the private rental sector to the large, faceless investors.

    • Further regulation is not needed. The regulations which exist are sufficient as long as they are enforced. 10 years to bring a rogue LL to book is laughable. Introducing new regulations is intended to make it look like the government is taking action to cover up it’s own incompetence.

  2. I believe there is a deliberate policy to drive small landlords out of the sector. It will ultimately lead to higher rents as fewer properties are available for rent. There is an element of legislation for the sake of votes with less redress for the actual landlord.

  3. An MOT for landlords? Then we have to have an MOT for tenants too!
    Consumer rights? Yes please, because it’s then finally a criminal offence when tenants trashed my property and don’t pay. Same as renting a car, right?

  4. There should be an MOT for politicians and Council workers, and espcially RSW. We have had to become members for years now. What have they done for landlords or tenants. NOTHING just take the landlords money. Rents are low on the whole in Wales and we can ill afford their something for nothing attitude.

  5. Shouldn’t there be a database for problematic tenants or non payers of rent etc to safeguard landlords, perhaps if a renter gets on the database then future landlords will have a Proper warning
    Instead relying on sometimes fraudulent references, fortunately I am no longer a Residential
    Letting landlord, if we buy any residential in with commercial purchases, I would rather leave it empty
    than risk a bad tenant

  6. Flexible tenancies instead of ASTs? What, like a periodic that’s been around for years? As long as it’s flexible equally for both the tenant & landlord then that’d be great. If not then I assume it’d be classed as an unfair contract & not enforceable? No, that is nust too logical. The landlord gets screwed yet again. Both tenants & landlords should be regulated, not just landlords. The extra costs will just mean higher rents.

  7. At this rate, there will be no private LL.
    Then where are you going to house all these people?
    Or is this the idea, to get all rented properties under one umbrella.

  8. Several comments touch upon this – how there is nothing really of note that’s in place that acts as some sort of a deterrent, for the criminal tenant who constantly abuses the system and helps make thru own ill-gotten gains, they know all laws, statutes and all the other pathetic sh¡te that’s helped tilt things hugely in their favour, so why is that there is no recourse or definitive action that Landlord’s can take that will help stop this rot from happening time and time again, blatantly obviously they don’t want it to stop!

    Take the Landlord who tenant failed to pay from month 2/3, and then sublet the property, which helped make them, what 70K and contingency? Yet, where’s the help that will stop them from trying this again, or anything that helps the next unfortunate Landlord that takes this/these lowlife scumbags on, its absolutely disgusting when Government are aiding a criminal act which is not a criminal act, as Landlord’s should shoulder the theft!! Crazy, and this cr@p will not help me it, yet just another stealth tax, I agree with comments that say the prs is doomed, at least in the likes of the USA, they can sue and have concrete helped of their Landlord associations, unlike the pathetic excuse we have in the UK, where making profits is more important that actually protecting your members, why have our associations not joined force’s to kick the update one hell of a fuss, sadly they don’t have they stomach or the nerve, ah the fun, not!

  9. It is not reasonable to suggest that tenants have fewer consumer rights than someone buying a fridge-freezer. If the law permitted swift re-possession for non-payment of rent or bad behaviour in a similar way to other goods and services, then perhaps a comparison could be made.
    The existing laws and plans will only discourage new landlords and eventually reduce supply, with landlords preferring to leave rooms empty while they gain in capital value. Higher investment risk demands higher yields. Eventually the end user pays, unless they are on benefits. For the system to work well, things need to be fair and encourage good standards with fair pricing for both sides.

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