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Graham Awards


Labour to ban bidding wars and offer new anti-social behaviour rules

A prominent housing market commentator says Labour would introduce a tougher version of the Renters Reform Bill if it forms the next government.

Neil Cobbold - the managing director of automated rental payment service PayProp UK - has noted Labour’s amendments to the Conservative government’s Bill.

Not all of the amendments have been accepted but those rejected give an idea of Labour’s priorities.


Cobbold says: “Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government, Angela Rayner, has promised that Section 21 will be abolished on the first day of a Labour government.

“We have also seen a number of rejected Labour amendments to the current Bill …. these include outlawing bidding wars, a call for a clearer definition of anti-social behaviour and a push to mandate landlords to join a redress scheme. 

“It is however unlikely that a backbench proposal to introduce a cap on annual rent increases to either the Consumer Price Index or wage growth in the local area will become an official Labour policy.”

Cobbold says that since the Bill was introduced, more than 140 pages of amendments have been published – most of them from the government itself – but 26 further changes have been proposed by Labour.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has already announced that the Bill’s most controversial measure, scrapping Section 21 evictions, will be paused until there are significant improvements to the court system.

Some of the other significant changes include:

- Allowing student landlords to regain possession after the academic year. (This only applies to HMOs but does not cover purpose-built student accommodation);

- Adopting the Decent Homes Standard in the PRS, which already applies to social housing. Local authorities would be given enforcement powers;

- Tougher investigative powers for housing authorities, including the powers to enter business premises without a warrant and require landlords and agents to provide information where there has been a possible breach of PRS regulations;

- A new clause allows the First-tier Tribunal to make an order against superior landlords, holding them liable for the behaviour of a rent-to-rent company. They could be asked to pay back up to two years of rent;

- Clearer rules against discrimination, making it illegal to discriminate against benefit claimants or tenants with children.

Time is running out to get this amended version of the Bill through both houses and on the statute books before the next general election, which some say could be as soon as May 2024.

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    The usual cobblers from Cobbold,

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    Retiring next couple of months, whole portfolio going, plenty of other assets to invest in, unfortunately , means more people on the housing list.

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    And the newly reformed court system for expediting enforcement of tenants who don't pay rent, trash flats and generally cause havoc in the community - any update on how far they have got with that?

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    Robin, l have been using the civil court to sue a letting agent and a supplier of a fske electrical ciertificates. Every obstacle was put in my way and my experience is that landlords are the lowest of the low.

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    @ Edwin Morris - Under the new reform bill and new tax laws landlords feel the 'ownership' of their properties are being eroded and their income substantially reduced. They are therefore more sensitive to being exploited by tenants. That said I understand about 3 per cent of landlords do not abide by the current laws. If tenants exploit landlords, it can easily take a year to resolve - a year when the landlord is receiving no income.

    The government is trying to improve the speed in which landlord and tenant problems are resolved. Much could be done with introducing a resolution panel but this hasn't been put forward in any serious way yet.

    Your poor experience with landlords is unusual, as despite the media rhetoric to the contrary landlords and tenants get on very well with a few percent where tenants have genuine issues of being mistreated.

    Far more concerning is the lack of homes being built by the government who have not kept their promise of providing 300,000 a year. Also successive governments have sold of 3M council homes and are still selling them to this day! Without this safety net the onus on providing homes for the vulnerable and poor who often have additional physical and mental issues is firmly put on the private landlord rental sector which it is not geared up or trained to deal with.

    A copy of the electrical certificate has to be submitted to the tenant, and he can check the validity of the certificate number with the property address. I am surprised it has not been important enough for the government to introduce it as an online electrical certificate service for tenants to check as per the EPC.

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    Robin, l am a landlord. I am also an electrical engineer, l told the letting agent that the installation was OK and not to pay him. They did so
    L researched his certification and his certifying authority, and then took them to court, But the courts put every single obstruction in the way, after years l got compensation from the electrician but my case against the letting agent was dismissed. The electricians organisation was merged with the NICEIC. He was and still is only allowed to certify his own work, but now for the NICEIC.


    I sympathise with you - the whole way the electrical certification system is overseen is poor to non existant - my company are member of the NICEIC & have been for many years. We continually find installations that despite have a certificate clearly have not been tested by competent electricians. We see fraudulent certificates issued by electricians & companies that aren’t registered with any of the testing bodies. This is normally because the customer/letting agent selects the cheapest price for the test without checking the registration numbers.


    Colin, I may be rare, but I check the registration of gas and electrical contractors.


    Well done for your persistance- I too am, a retied elctrical engineer [BSc] and used to do all our safety checks myself - they are not difficult. But with new regs that ended. More rental cost. More and more and more legislation. What about a "Trusted Status" register operated by the LA? Let a registered agent be responsible for the whole of their business' and CO-OPERATE with the LA?

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    The electrical contractor was registered and was checcked out by the letting agency and they had used him for over 5 years. As said the certifying organisation was then folded imto the NICEIC. Point is HMRC and the courts stalled everything, they are very anti landlord. I expected to go to arbitration and ended up before three judges. I think that this is what Gove meant when improving the courts.


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