A government investigation into the private rented sector falls short

The communities and local government committee has recently released its timely report on the private rented sector. Its main thrust calls for:

  1. More straightforward regulation and increased awareness amongst both landlords and tenants
  2. Greater regulation for landlords and letting agents
  3. Greater powers for councils in the regulation of rogue landlords
  4. An end to excessive letting agents’ fees
  5. Longer-term tenancies containing clear provisions for rent increases

As great advocates of transparency, we at Rentify applaud the call to help landlords and tenants understand their roles as fully as possible. There is, for example, a nice idea for a standard set of rights and responsibilities to be supplied to landlord and tenant.

The report also sensibly recommends that landlords convicted of letting substandard properties should have to repay money to their tenants. Anything which will deter bad apples from cutting corners and consequently help to boost the public image of landlords can only be good for the industry. The same idea applies to the crackdown on rogue letting agents, who can give the good majority a bad name.

Perhaps best of all, more options for longer-term tenancies will increase security for both tenants and landlords. Currently many mortgage lenders will (absurdly) only allow landlords to offer 12 month agreements to tenants. Feedback from our landlords suggests that this needs to be overhauled; indeed, Nationwide have just started allowing 3 year agreements so watch this space!

Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of woolly thinking mixed in with the good.

Some of the proposed changes are actually in existence in one way or another. For example, councils are already able to demand that certain landlords be licensed and the report is unclear on how this would be developed. The basic call for more straightforward regulation is vague and unhelpful without specific suggestions. Ultimately the report may prove to be a victim of its own broadness and it would be a shame if its better points end up being ignored as a result.

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