The Nationwide Building Society says it is assembling what it calls ‘an industry alliance’ to support the increasingly-beleaguered private rental sector.
The Nationwide Partnership Board is backed by the Association of Residential Letting Agents, Countrywide, the National Landlords Association, the charitable Nationwide Foundation and - perhaps surprisingly - the charity Shelter, which has been sharply critical of letting agents and landlords in recent years.
The Nationwide, which is coordinating the group, says it will monitor the health and development of the private rented sector, discuss issues of mutual concern and provide policy suggestions to government.
“With a Draft Bill on letting agent fees already in progress, and greater powers for local councils beginning to take effect, it is clear that reappraising the private rental sector is already firmly on the government’s agenda and so we look forward to working with the housing minister to help influence a future that works for all. By coming together we can help deliver somewhere decent for everyone to call home” says Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide Building Society.
Meanwhile, new research from Nationwide shows that landlords are struggling to keep up with the financial impact of multiple tax and regulatory changes, which could lead to increased rents, reduced maintenance spending and landlords being forced to sell properties to make ends meet.
The YouGov survey of 1,000 landlords - commissioned by The Mortgage Works, Nationwide’s buy to let arm - found that many landlords have shielded their tenants from the financial impact of the changes, with almost 29 per cent having never increased their rent.
However, the survey shows that 44 per cent are now considering increasing rents while 10 per cent say they will reduce the amount they spend on property maintenance.
Some 14 per cent intend to start managing the property themselves, rather than using an agent and 22 per cent are even considering selling their rental property.
Nationwide says this is evidence that changes intended to level the playing field between owner-occupiers and landlords risk reducing choice and value in the private rented sector, affecting those who live in Britain’s 5.3m privately rented homes.
The survey also shows that many landlords are unaware of tax and regulatory changes, some already introduced, even though these are likely to raise their costs and reduce profits.
A third were unaware of additional stamp duty on second homes from April 2016 and more than a third unaware of the tiered removal of tax relief on mortgage interest for higher-rate landlords from April this year.
Some 43 per cent hadn’t heard of the consultation on lettings fees being paid by landlords, rather than tenants.