Last October, stakeholders across the private rented sector were told by ministers that the Government needed extra time to create a ‘balanced package’ in its rental reform white paper.
The newly-launched Levelling Up White Paper recommitted the government to reform of the sector and sets out a new timeline for the proposals on rental reform of this spring. With significant change on the horizon, there is much for landlords to reflect on over the coming months.
Much of last week’s announcement related to the private rented sector wasn’t new. The commitment to abolish Section 21, further consideration of a national landlord register, and exploring redress were all existing pledges. These are significant proposals and we continue to engage with the Government on these and wider reform issues, including taking part in ministerial roundtables. We expect that further detail will come in the rental reform white paper in the coming months.
But the commitment of the Government to apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector caught the eye of many in the sector. This standard was designed for the social rented sector, and we have concerns about how it can be applied more broadly, particularly given the very different age profile of privately rented homes. Moreover, our research over recent months has shown the shocking lack of enforcement of existing regulations within the private rented sector.
It is for these reasons we will continue to work with the Government to ensure that decency standards in the sector are appropriate, proportionate and enforceable.
In the immediate term, the Government needs to recognise the impact of the cost of living crisis on both landlords and tenants.
With rising utilities bills and inflation, it’s important for the Government to consider the risk of rising rent arrears, with some tenants still recovering from the financial consequences of the pandemic. Councils therefore, need to ensure renters in arrears can access the funds announced in October to help tackle COVID related rent arrears.
For some landlords, another story occupied their interest: the problem of unsafe cladding across the country, and whether leaseholder landlords in medium-rise buildings would be eligible for any support for remediation.
In January, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, announced plans to force developers to pay for remedial action to tackle dangerous cladding on buildings between 11 and 18 metres high.
In the same announcement he argued that leaseholders should not be expected to foot the bill. However, Ministers have now admitted that they have yet to decide if buy-to-let landlords will be included within the scheme.
Speaking on this very topic last week, our chief executive, Ben Beadle, said: “It makes no sense to be treating leaseholders who are landlords so differently to owner-occupiers. Both groups have faced the same problems, and both should be treated equally. We are calling on the Government to rectify this injustice as a matter of urgency.”
We have been inundated with messages from landlords who are struggling with spiralling costs related to unsafe cladding and wider fire safety defects. Individual landlords, as much as owner-occupiers, bought properties trusting that they were safely built by developers, and there’s no justification for excluding them from support.
*Meera Chindooroy is deputy campaigns director of the National Residential Landlords Association
Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.