The Conservative Party’s pledge to give tenants greater rights as part of a regulatory shake-up of the private rented sector has been warmly welcomed by letting agents.
The communities secretary Sajid Javid used his speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday to announce that all landlords will have to become members of an ombudsman redress scheme in a bid to improve the dispute resolution system for renters.
He also proposed that legislation be introduced to ensure all letting agents are registered, while landlords will be offered incentives to provide long-term tenancies of at least 12 months in order to offer tenants greater security.
David Cox, the CEO of ARLA Propertymark (formally Association of Residential Letting Agents), commented: “After 20 years of our campaigning falling on deaf ears, we’re very pleased the government has taken the decision to regulate the private rented sector.
“This will be the single greatest step forward in a generation, in terms of consumer protection for private tenants, and will do more to clean up the image of the industry than the hundreds of smaller laws and pieces of legislation introduced over the last 20 years.
“However, regulation can take different forms and we need to see the detail of proposal to be confident that it will be effective for tenants and landlords.”
Isobel Thomson, CEO of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), also described the measures in Javid’s speech as “very welcome news”, and insisted that it offers “clear confirmation” that the government is adopting a “coherent, strategic approach” to the PRS for the benefit of consumers.
She added: “NALS and the Fair Fees Forum called earlier this year for both the fee ban and introduction of mandatory client money protection to be framed within wider regulation as the only way to ensure that all agents meet the same requirements and consumers are protected. We are delighted that government has listened. We look forward to engaging with government to take forward all of the measures they have announced.”
Javid’s proposal to also consult on the introduction of a housing court to give tenants access to faster, more effective justice if they are mistreated or standards are not met, has also been welcomed – by landlords.
David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said: “We called for housing courts to speed up and improve access to justice for good tenants and landlords as well as for tax incentives to support good landlords.
“This is a welcome sign that the Government is ready to listen to practical proposals from the RLA to improve the working of the sector and encourage the majority of responsible landlords and tenants who want to and are doing the right thing.”