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Agents’ chief warns MPs on need for court reform and more bailiff capacity

Propertymark has called on the government to retain the option of fixed-term tenancies in the private rental sector where it is mutually beneficial for both parties.

Propertymark made the call at the committee stage of the Renters Reform Bill.   

Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark, presented evidence to MPs where he stressed the need for tenants to have more choice and “have the option to rent on a fixed-term or periodic tenancy” and said there needs to be more flexibility in the system, especially when it comes to student letting. 


He also drew attention to how “the existing redress schemes for lettings agents need to be improved alongside requirements for landlords to have redress.”

This includes ensuring the schemes adjudicate in the same way, work to statutory code of practices and they ‘have more power to take action and issue fines.’ 

Douglas said the government must be careful not to meddle with a system that already exists and works for all property agents. Working with the existing scheme providers should be explored as part of plans to extend redress to landlords.

Regarding plans to reform the court system, he said the legislation must stipulate that ‘guidance for the courts is vital’ when decisions on anti-social behaviour are made and these cases are ‘prioritised by the courts.’

And he urged the government to ‘focus on bailiff capacity’ and ‘to speed up the possession process provide landlords with an automatic right for a High Court Enforcement Officer to enforce the Court Possession.’

He also urged the UK Government to develop a wider housing strategy that deals with taxes, welfare, social housing, and energy efficiency.  

Douglas discussed student lettings in depth as he said there needs to be ‘more detail’ when it comes to the new possession ground for student landlords, especially because there is a ‘myriad of student semesters.’ And he added houses of multiple occupancy are easily defined as student lets but other properties less so. Allowing the option of a fixed term tenancy for any property with a student in would help solve this issue. 

 As well as the two initial days of evidence, the committee is currently slated to meet each Tuesday and Thursday up to and including December 5 for line-by-line consideration of the Renters Reform Bill.

Following the committee stage in the House of Commons, which is the lower chamber of Parliament, the Bill will then move on to the report stage before its third reading in the House. 

It will then pass on to the House of Lords, the upper chamber that scrutinises government legislation, where it will receive first, second and third readings, and then go through the committee and report stages too. 

The Bill should receive Royal Assent before the next general election.  


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