The Conservatives have used their annual conference in Manchester to unveil a raft of new controls and regulations applying to the private rental sector.
Specific details are thin on the ground, with the party suggesting more will be revealed at the November 22 Budget, but the measures will include:
- All private landlords, as well as agents, having to become members of an official redress organisation. Javid told his party’s conference: “We will make it mandatory for every landlord to be part of an ombudsman scheme, either directly, or through a letting agent. At the moment landlords, unlike letting agents, are not required to sign up to ombudsman schemes. We will change the law so that this becomes a requirement, giving all tenants access to quick and easy dispute resolution over issues like repairs and maintenance;
- All letting agents will be regulated in order to practice. Delegates heard Javid say: "Currently, anyone can operate as a letting agent without any qualifications or professional oversight. We will change the law so that all letting agents must register with an appropriate organisation. This will mean that letting agents would be required to satisfy minimum training requirements and comply with an industry code of conduct";
- Incentives for longer term tenancies. “Working with the Treasury we will announce at the Autumn Budget [on November 22] a new set of incentives for landlords who offer tenancies of at least 12 months";
- A possible housing court. “We will consult with the judiciary on the case for a new housing court to streamline the current system. We will explore whether a new housing court could improve existing court processes, reduce dependence on legal representation and encourage arbitration, with benefits for both tenants and landlords. We will consult with the judiciary on whether the introduction of a new housing court can meet the aim of saving time and money in dealing with disputes."
The first trade body to respond to the proposals, the Residential Landlords Association, welcomed the final point.
RLA policy director, David Smith, said last evening: “We called for Housing Courts to speed up and improve access to justice for good tenants and landlords as well as for tax incentives to support good landlords.”