A collection of rental experts in a body called The Lettings Industry Council have called for the creation of a Landlord Register as one of a string of reforms of the lettings sector.
The council consists of industry groups - including the National Residential Landlords Association - along with some bodies that have often been hostile towards landlords, such as Generation Rent.
The new TLIC report releazsed this week considers what changes could be made to smooth the path for the abolition of section 21 notices, enhancements to the court process, as well as ways to improve property conditions and help those locked in tenancies and unable to move due to financial constraints.
Some of the report’s key recommendations include:
- every tenancy should have a written tenancy agreement in place or at the very least a written Statement of Terms. In the absence of either of these then the government’s model tenancy agreement should be used as the default agreement;
- a review of the accelerated procedure is needed to reduce the listing of private rental sector claims and prioritise these cases so they can be taken out of the system without delay;
- clarifying the route for dealing with abandonment cases, enabling a process without recourse to the court to further reduce unnecessary court cases where a tenant has clearly already left the property;
- prioritising cases with high or persistent rent arrears, dropping review hearings, and employing more judges will further reduce the workload and strain on the courts;
- mediation should be a recommendation in all cases, other than where there is evidence the tenant cannot afford to pay the rent. Costs can be kept to a minimum and could reduce court hearings by up to 25 per cent;
- government should consider its own bond/loan solution or finance local authorities to issue their own bond guarantees. This option could be available solely for tenants on Universal Credit and/or in receipt of specified benefits to ensure that the deposit problem is specifically targeted to the right demographic;
- by embedding use of the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) within the Renter’s Reform Bill discrete data points across different existing public and private databases can be joined together. Property safety records can be captured and collated within a property portal, to form one comprehensive safety record delivering a safe property at low cost.
- a property portal linked to a landlord redress scheme will ultimately provide a Landlord Register enabling direct communication with landlords and education on property safety, legislation and better remote enforcement;
- a Regulator for Regulation. TLIC says: "The sector is like a puzzle with lots of pieces that need to be joined up. A regulator would tie all of the pieces together - tenants need one portal door to enter which then signposts them to where they need to go."
Council chair Theresa Wallace, an agent with Savills, says: “Each year, in an attempt to combat some of the issues experienced in the private rented sector, including sub-standard properties, rogue and naïve landlords, and untrained agents, more and more legislation has been introduced, confusing even diligent landlords with the complexities in providing a rental home.
“So far, these changes to legislation, which often come at a financial cost to the landlord, have just compounded the problems further and is a core reason given for why landlords are exiting the sector, leaving a shortfall of available rental properties.
“As a result, in 2022 we are experiencing the biggest crisis we have seen surrounding the shortage of rental property. We need to encourage investment into the market and that includes private landlord investment.
“The Renter’s Reform Bill provides a once in a generation opportunity to improve the lives of renters.
“However, in order to achieve maximum impact and create true strategic change, we believe it is crucial to phase in these significant changes in a considered manner over a period of time, avoiding unexpected unintended consequences which only hurt those we are seeking to protect the most - tenants.
“This report seeks to find a balance between encouraging investment in the sector to increase available homes and ensure they are of consistent good quality through natural supply and demand competition.”
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