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Rental Reform Delay allows proposals to be rewritten says industry chief

One of the highest profile figures in the lettings industry says the apparent inaction by government over rental reform gives an opportunity to rewrite the proposals and get them right.

Neil Cobbold, a prominent lettings sector commentator and UK managing director of automated payment service PayProp, says with the new ministers at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities concerned mostly with the rising cost of living, private rental sector reform could take a back seat for the foreseeable future.

Cobbold, who has authored PayProp’s response to government consultation on its controversial rental reform White Paper, has detailed where the changes should be made.



Evictions - With the government proposing a new Ombudsman to settle disputes between tenants and landlords, PayProp says we need more clarity on what role they will have in cases of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour before and during any eviction process.

Cobbold notes: “While the White Paper confirms the removal of Section 21 and the expansion of mandatory eviction grounds under Section 8, the government may have to go further to speed up the Section 8 process to keep tenants and landlords out of limbo. As non-payment of rent makes up a large proportion of current Section 8 cases, we would also wish to see the government allow third-party evidence from PropTech providers, as well as banks and other sources, to be submitted to the courts. We ask the department to establish a set of standards that this evidence must meet in order to be accepted by the courts as verification that it is a true reflection of rent demands and payment history.”

He says that instead, all rent arrears evictions cases could be dealt with by a First-tier Tribunal. 

“We also call on the government to clarify when a mandatory eviction notice can be served for persistent arrears, and to establish a new mandatory ground for eviction in cases when landlords need to refurbish a property to comply with the newly-proposed Decent Homes Standard.”


Rent changes - The White Paper also suggests tenants should be able to challenge rent increases more easily. PayProp asks that the government recognises the role of letting agents in this process. 

It says agents can provide an effective and impartial channel of communication between landlords and tenants and PayProp proposes a standard template for rent increases that also lays out the tenant’s rights and means to challenge an unfair rent increase.

Additionally, in the current proposal, rent increases challenged at the Housing Tribunal can only be reduced. However, given the potential for a time delay between the case being brought and being heard, PayProp says tribunals should be allowed to set a higher increase than was initially demanded in line with market conditions at the time the case is heard. 


The landlord/agent relationship - A large percentage of landlords use letting agents to manage their properties. However, says Cobbold, the White Paper does not fully recognise the opportunities this relationship brings to raise standards in the private rental sector.  Many of the changes proposed by the White Paper require landlords to demonstrate compliance. The government could reduce that burden by allowing letting agents who fully manage properties to take on some of those duties.

“We also ask the government to allow managing agents to access the proposed Property Portal on the landlord’s behalf,” adds Cobbold. “If they also provide Application Programming Interface (API) routes into the Property Portal, agents using PropTech can easily automate information and evidence uploads, greatly reducing the burden of compliance without compromising standards”.


Recognising the need for reform - Cobbold concludes: “While we have yet to see where reform sits on the new government’s agenda during the ongoing cost of living crisis, the importance of the housing sector to the economy and to people’s lives mean that it should remain a priority. We ask the government to take into account views from across the industry to ensure we have an efficient and accessible PRS that delivers high-qualify housing for all.”

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    To be more PC we should all admit reform is needed. But what really needs to happen it that that Fairer Rent white paper is slung in the bin. It never should have be written as it was in the first place.

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    We are but Toads to the government, and the public at large view landlords as something they have stepped in. I cannot see this changing, the government want BTR, and we are just in the way.

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    Fixed term contracts are essential in the student lettings market. Private landlords must have the same exemption as the purpose built sector to ensure a level playing field, and more affordable options for students.

  • Sue Powell

    I agree, it is essential for Students that a fixed term contract is available. How else can the annual swopover of students take place in a calm and controlled manner. Thousands of Students leaving Halls of a residence rely on this well ordered system for their second year accommodation. This includes provision for many overseas Students who provide valuable input and revenue to the Universities. Agents provide back to back clean up to regulation standard HMO’s for simply thousands of students annually. The system works due to fixed term contracts. PLEASE PLEASE will someone in government listen. I have written to my MP but somehow the understanding is falling on deaf ears. For students, a fixed term contract is a necessity. Why force our youngsters to have more uncertainty in an uncertain world?


    Couldn't agree more, total silence from my MP on this one. I pointed out to him that if implemented, we will see scenes like Glasgow where a one bed flat advertised at £900 per month gets 500 enquiries in 24 hours, mainly from students!! Utter madness

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    I think its an outrage and, the landlord is continually being squeezed. Lets hope bills for rent freezes like the one proposed in Scotland doesn't get the go ahead

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    Fixed Term Tenancies are essential for all not just Students.
    Just reinstate Section 21 and Assured Shorthold Tenancy’s which was fair to everyone.
    Scrap THE WHITE PAPER/ Renters Bill written by discredited sacked Mr Gove, what does he know about housing or real life.
    They have no mandate for the Change, no landlord consultation took place. Just ask others not involved in the Industry for their opinion to get the answer they want.
    Scrap the proposed Ombudsman it will be also an anti-landlord quango like what what we have already.

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    Good luck with a first tier tribunal. The one in Scotland is shockingly slow (months) and pro tenant, anti landlord... I have had experience with them and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. They are an absolute disgrace.

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    This Guy is only interested in carving out LL’s business for letting Agents like a lot of it has been high jacked already.
    Why have we no one representing us maybe we need Mick Lynch.
    1231 read this only 6 were prepared to comment. LL’s come off the fence.
    The other Insurance storey about appliances turned out to be a non story, 2120 read only 4 comments apart from mine, only one in 500 commented.
    Shane is right about First Tier Tribunals but its probably illegal to say so better leave it there.

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    We just have to hope this isn't a priority, with all the other problems they have, some of their own making. What is needed is something that will actually improve things for both landlords and tenants.


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