10 changes needed to improve the private rental sector for all

Mon 23 Feb 2015

A comprehensive report by a leading property expert is calling for 10 key changes in the private rental sector (PRS) to improve and safeguard the industry for all involved.

The report, published this month, is based on an independent analysis of the market by Kate Faulkner, managing director of consultancy Designs on Property, with input from key individuals and organisations in the industry, including property specialist Leaders, self-regulating agent bodies and private landlords.

Leaders’ Technical & Compliance director, Carole Charge, has decades of experience in the industry and was a key supporter of the report. “The report is impartial and has looked at the PRS from everyone’s angle – tenants, landlords and agents – with the aim of improving it for all,” she said. “The PRS is becoming increasingly important in our housing market and needs to meet the needs of a growing tenant population. But this must be achieved without over burdening the sector with so much legislation and control that it deters landlords and results in a lack of stock in the future. That would be detrimental to tenants who rely on the PRS for their housing needs.”

The report provides a unique snapshot of the current private rental sector, its recent history and future potential. “With the general election coming up, the future of the rental market is a hot political topic and this report will be an invaluable resource for policy-makers in the future,” said Ms Charge. “The report finds that the sector works well for most tenants, landlords and agents, but that it does fail a proportion, mainly with regards to the condition of rented property and eviction.”

The 10 changes recommended in the report are:

  • The creation of a 15-point checklist which agents, landlords and tenants can undertake to determine that a rental property is legally let, especially regarding electrical checks
  • Compulsory client money protection for all letting and managing agents
  • A taxation system where rented properties are treated as businesses, encouraging landlords to invest
  • A rental market free from controls
  • A tick box on council tax forms to say a property is rented
  • Uniformity, so that all landlords and letting agents must adhere to the same standard within the self-regulated sector
  • Existing and new regulations to be enforced with a realistic budget, eg, penalty notices for tenant/landlord offences, proceeds to be kept by the local authority and re-invested in further enforcement and education
  • Cross government, industry and organisations agree to educate tenants and landlords from one source
  • Ensure the ‘how to rent’ guide is included in the national and higher education curriculum under the Personal Finance Education Group and the NUS
  • Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training for all involved in the PRS (e.g. lenders, insurers, landlords, letting agents, charities, housing associations) on property conditions and maintenance

“Following this report, it is vital for all those involved in the PRS to come together to bring about the necessary changes,” said Ms Charge.

Leaders has been at the forefront of developing and improving the lettings industry since its establishment by the co-founder of ARLA in 1983 and fully supports the recommendations made by the report.