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Agents fight back in row over quality of private rental stock and repairs

ARLA Propertymark has hit back in this week’s debate on the quality of private rental property, following sharp criticism in a report by the Public Accounts Committee of MPs in the House of Commons.

The PAC claims some 13 per cent of the private rented sector stock poses “a serious threat to the health and safety of renters” which is costing the NHS an estimated £340m each year.

At the same time the PAC claims enforcement of the sector “is a postcode lottery …with 21 per cent of all privately rented homes in one region estimated to be severely unsafe”. 


The MPs say tenants face increasing rents, a rising number of low-earners and families renting long-term, and the prevalence of Section 21 evictions leaving households at risk of homelessness; and when trying to enforce their right to a safe and secure home private “renters face an inaccessible, arduous and resource-intensive court process and the risk of retaliatory eviction.” 

The committee goes on to claim that there is also evidence of unlawful discrimination in the sector, with 25 per cent of landlords unwilling to let to non-British passport holders and 52 per cent unwilling to let to tenants who receive Housing Benefit.

However, ARLA Propertymark says it agrees with only some of the findings of the Public Accounts Committee. 

Timothy Douglas, the trade body’s head of policy and campaigns, states: “The report reiterates our long-held view that ‘piecemeal’ legislative changes have been introduced which ‘has made the regulatory system even more overly complex and difficult to navigate’. 

“Without a long-term vision for the sector it seems that more fragmented policies are on their way with the startling statement that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is making decisions, such as on the issue of retaliatory evictions, without having all the evidence and data it needs to do so.”

But Douglas goes on to say that government figures released just this week by the Office of National Statistcis show that investment in repairs and maintenance to private accommodation has seen all-time highs over the past 18 months. 


This is in stark contrast to the social rented sector that has seen investment in repairs and maintenance at the lowest levels since records began over the last two years.

Douglas continues: “There are at least six government departments that interact with the private rented sector and if the UK government are serious about reforms, then all relevant Ministers, officials and stakeholders including local authorities must be at the same table, working together and setting out a roadmap for reform that cuts across all the different policy areas.”

You can see our extensive story on the PAC report and its recommendations here.

  • icon

    How different to the subservient response from Ben Beadle of the NRLA. Talk about, “Watch out, Beadle’s about”. Really makes me wonder if it is worth paying their subscription.

    Billy the Fish

    We left in 2020 and the only difference is that expenditure reduced.

    Kristjan Byfield

    Whilst there are things we can defend- we have to admit the failings of our sector and work together to eradicate the rogue element for the sake of all concerned.


    @ Kristjan, my job is to provide good quality accommodation for good quality tenants, not to police rogue landlords. I am sick and tired of being described as a greedy buy-2-let landlord depriving people of a home etc etc.

    "government figures released just this week by the Office of National Statistcis show that investment in repairs and maintenance to private accommodation has seen all-time highs over the past 18 months. This is in stark contrast to the social rented sector that has seen investment in repairs and maintenance at the lowest levels since records began over the last two years." Now which of us is the rogue element? PRS or social housing?

  • Kieran Ryan

    Afraid Propertymark need to voice themselves louder, far too long our Industry gets hammered, Loss fo tenants fees, AML subscription, Acting immigration officers! Propertymark, you are like mice, nowips on all this and make our case heard!!

    Kristjan Byfield

    The only person to blame for loss of tenant fees is our own industry. We were warned numerous times but too many agents were too unscrupulous. Id actually argue that the TFB is one of the best things that's happened to our industry giving tenants a clear costs landscape and preventing agents from using tenants to drive down landlord fees.


    @ kristian byfield, by the same token you no doubt agree that mortgage application fees should be abolished.

    Kristjan Byfield

    @ Fedup- in my experience mortgage application fees often vary as do the % rate with mortgages often carrying a higher application fee on lower % interest products. As both costs are applicable to the buyer this is not the same as a balance of Tenant & Landlord fees. Another aspect is (with the exception of unique properties with specific lending criteria) a buyer can usually pick any mortgage they want to purchase the property of their choosing whereas Tenants were usually left facing a single agents tenant fee structure if they wanted that property- pay or go somewhere else. So I don't see the parity here. I do, however, support transparency over any and all fees, costing and commissions/revenue- be that lettings, sales or ancillary services.

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    You are not a landlord, are you ? Landlords aren't policemen or trading standards officers. As a landlord l find the aforementioned awful at upholding the law when landlords complain. As far as l can see they view private landlords as a convenient dustbin for problem peiple. That also applies to local authorities,vho are only to keen to dump their problem tenants on private landlords.

    Kristjan Byfield

    Edwin I have been a Landlord, I've also spent around 20 years lettings and managing hundreds of properties a year on behalf of Landlords. There are many fantastic landlords, agents and tenants out there- and a handful of bad eggs. With housing being such a critical resource, the focus will always be on the rogue element and how to address that. No 'legitimate' party should ever fear regulation or proactive enforcement- in fact, they should welcome it. Whilst I disagree with elements of the report, we must face up to its failings also.
    A lot of the legislation in place is good- but it is hard to follow, adhere to and enforce (be that as a tenant or agency). The embetterment of the existing regulations should be government's primary aim- making the existing legislation (and compliance with it) more transparent and actionable should be DLUHC's primary objective atm. This is a belief I have had for a long time and have therefore been very active in groups exploring and promoting the implementation of a 'Property MOT'.
    I could write a lot more but won't......

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    You're writing utter nonsense. Letting agents have had their income cut in half, which is leading to a slew of bankruptcies. Taking the hit is also letting agency staff, who are mainly on commission only. There's a massive turnover of staff, since you claim to have had these type of jobs, you couldn'thave earned much.

    Kristjan Byfield

    Hi Edwin- the agents losing half revenue through the TFB are the reason it was enacted. Most agencies I know have seen a limited impact or have navigated this well since implemented. My own agency saw a loss of less than 2% of revenue due to the TFB. I am not sure who told you most lettings staff are on 'commission only' contracts (largely illegal unless operating under the self-employed model). I'd argue it's you talking nonsense atm but we are all entitled to our own opinions.

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    Everything l have written is factual. What is your agency, ie name etc ?

    • J T
    • 21 April 2022 18:06 PM

    It's not difficult, check his profile....

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    • J T
    • 21 April 2022 18:28 PM

    There is simply no comparison. From my own extensive experience of 28 years in both the PRS and social housing sector, I would say the vast majority of social housing is much lower specification than the PRS and has significantly poorer standards when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
    You're lucky if your social landlord even provides carpets at the start of a tenancy. And rather than a fresh redec, you are likely to receive a £70 "Paint Pack" including brushes, tins of paint and dust sheets. The argument being that tenants just love being able to choose the colours and get stuck in to the DIY, when in reality it is just a way to cut void turnaround times and costs.


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