A prominent lettings industry supplier says uncertainty over the details and timescales to implement rental reforms will dog the sector for some time to come.
Nick Lyons, chief executive of inventory supplier No Letting Go, says he welcomes the release of the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper but cautions that its proposals are subject to consultation and change - and are unlikely to become law soon.
He says there is already “intense lobbying and opposition … behind the scenes” and adds: “The devil will be in the detail, which is lacking at the moment. For example, many landlords do not accept pets so there will be particular opposition to the idea of tenants finding it much easier to keep pets in their rental homes, unless they have some means to protect themselves against extra cleaning, excessive wear or damage at end of tenancy. There is every chance this could be watered down to appease frustrated landlords by the time it gets to Parliament.”
Pointing to the lengthy process that led to the Tenant Fees Act 2019 - a more modest reform than many of those contained in the White Paper - he cautions: “I’d be very surprised if the Bill’s path to Royal Assent and becoming law is an easy, smooth and swift one … There are still numerous things distracting the government, from by elections and Partygate to the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and high-profile strikes, which are likely to keep parliamentary time to a premium.”
Lyons says some reforms are likely to win widespread support across the industry - for example, making private rental homes subject to Decent Homes Standard - while others, such as the scrapping of Section 21 eviction powers, have been talked about for so long they have become accepted already.
But he expects other parts of the reforms to prove more controversial – for example tenants being the ones to decide when a tenancy ends and what constitutes a valid reason for landlords to end a tenancy and reclaim possession of their property.
“These are the things that are likely to be the subject of fierce lobbying over the next few months … I’d be surprised if rental reforms were introduced before the end of the year, so 2023 seems far more likely.”