ARLA Propertymark is backing a call for the government to set a clear vision for how it sees the private rental sector developing - but it pleads not implement yet more red tape.
Over the weekend a new National Audit Office report slammed the government and councils for doing too little to safeguard renters, and for unfair treatment of non-UK passport holders and tenants on Housing Benefit.
Now Propertymark’s chief policy advisor Mark Hayward - who leaves the organisation later this month - says the organisation backs the NAO call for more regulation and an overall vision.
“Getting enforcement right is crucial to the success of any vision for improving the private rented sector, but it makes little sense to introduce new rules when it is not yet fully understood what does and doesn’t work within the current system” explains Hayward.
“The private rented sector will play a pivotal role in levelling up our country and communities as we recover from the pandemic, but without strengthening current processes and providing adequate funding to local authorities, the UK government will add further red tape to the already considerable legislative pressures that landlords now face, risking continued decline in stock levels at a time where housing supply is at a cliff edge.
“The private rented sector needs balance and must work for both tenants and landlords evenly. Figures from the latest English Housing Survey point to a steady decline in the size of the private rented sector over the last five years and should act as a warning sign to protect the sector.
“The pending Renters’ Reform White Paper presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to design a package of reforms that creates a fair private rented sector. It is paramount that the UK government ensures it proposes a deal that does not further push landlords out of the market.”
The NAO report is outspoken in its criticism of the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for introducing multiple piecemeal reforms without any apparent overall strategy; there is also criticism that on issues like redress, agents and landlords are treated very differently.
There’s also sharp dissent about the lack of data the government has gathered over property conditions and tenants’ finances, plus issues such as cases of harassment, evictions and disrepair.
The report also says that tenants are too powerless or ignorant of their rights when complaining.