The Renters Reform Bill can be the perfect opportunity for the industry to become more professional - just so long as piecemeal legislation does not swamp it with red tape.
That’s the view of Neil Cobbold, a long-time commentator on the private rental sector and the managing director of automated payment service PayProp UK.
He says: “Anything that drives up standards can only be seen as a good thing for the private rental sector but the lack of reassurances and detail in these reforms risks some landlords selling up at a time when rental properties are urgently needed.”
Cobbold says the reforms contained in the Bill - the abolition of Section 21 eviction powers, stronger rights for tenants to have pets, and mandatory membership of a landlord Ombudsman scheme - may be worrying for some in the industry but are all genuine concerns for tenants.
He states: “The Renters Reform Bill is a golden opportunity to get these reforms right, but credible enforcement is key. Property professionals have pointed to a ‘postcode lottery’ across the country when it comes to enforcing current rules, which allows rogue landlords and agents to operate. We urge the government to address this as we see very few proposals to ensure better enforcement.”
Cobbold continues: “Increasing regulation in the PRS is nothing new; indeed, many of these reforms in England have already been seen in Scotland and did not result in a collapse of the private rented sector. But the volume of upcoming changes means there has never been a better time for small-scale landlords to seek out partnerships to help them navigate the new landscape.
“Property ownership will continue to be a sound investment for the vast majority of landlords who provide safe, secure and compliant homes. But landlords who may not have the time to invest in adapting to these changes, or the capital to ensure their properties are up to standard, may be looking to sell..
“Those landlords currently self-managing will find that professional letting agents and landlords make a perfect match. The agents have the managerial expertise to get optimal return from their landlords’ valuable assets, protect them from the penalties of non-compliance and ensure their tenants have a great rental experience.”
Cobbold adds that there’s more change on the horizon, aside from the controversial Renters Reform Bill.
New Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard regulations are likely to become law in the near future, although the government has not yet given a firm date when the new rules will come into force. The proposed legislation – part of the government’s pledge to achieve Net Zero by 2050 - will lift the minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating for all homes in the PRS from the current level of ‘E’ to ‘C’.