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Rental Reform - are landlords and tenants that far apart?

Renting is changing. That’s what we keep being told by the Government as it prepares the ground for its renters’ reform agenda to become a reality. 

Unquestionably, the truth is renting has already changed dramatically, which is exactly why this government and the previous two or three before it have developed complex programmes of consultation and stakeholder engagement to devise a way to deal with the perceived problems of private renting. 

The private rented sector (PRS) is unrecognisable from that which prompted the Government of 1988 to pass its Housing Act, so it should hardly be a surprise that there is a clamour for a change. The question of course is what needs to change and how, which is perhaps where the disagreements will lie between those of us representing supply and those speaking for the consumers.

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Differentiating between those two camps has, arguably, been made a little easier of late with the creation of the NRLA and the coming together of the Rental Reform Coalition. Furthermore, both sides have now published summaries of their respective positions about rental reform, making comparison more straightforward. 

It would be easy to treat this as an adversarial situation, with two tribes at loggerheads about what comes next.  However, as Frankie famously said: “When two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can score” and the future of the PRS is far too important for point scoring. 

Looking at the Coalition’s Blueprint for Reform and our Shadow White Paper, there are obvious points of difference but there are also notable similarities in approach. 

For instance, we recognise that Section 21 will come to an end, and that grounds which are not linked to a breach in tenancy (such as to allow the sale of a property) must be used appropriately with robust evidence requirements and adequate notice. 

We also agree that care must be taken to avoid rent hikes being used as a de facto replacement for s21, although we believe that the tribunal will be up to the task post renters’ reform. 

We are entirely onboard with preventing illegal evictions, as a means of improving the private rented sector as a whole, and increasing tenants’ confidence. However, as these are by definition illegal, we favour a focus on enforcement and ensuring third parties, including the police, properly understand the law. 

There are naturally areas where we do not see eye to eye. I find it difficult to agree with some of the logic contained within the blueprint. Some of the proposals concerning greater discretion in rent arrears claims seems to assume landlords have very deep pockets. Likewise, its call for indefinite tenancies offers landlords no security and tenants complete agency to leave a tenancy at any point, which doesn’t suggest a great deal of the balance supposedly being sought.

That being said, and with balance in mind, I’m sure there would be a great deal with which Coalition members would disagree with our white paper too.

 

My worry today, is that irrespective of what lies ahead for renters’ reform, and there will be much debate about this, it risks overshadowing critical supply and demand issues that should be the immediate priority.

Both groups have highlighted this in their own ways, but it is imperative that solutions are found that do not stifle investment in the way that interventions like rent stabilisation would.

When it comes to the supply of rented accommodation here in the UK, the lack of affordability and supply combined with other pressures on the cost of living, will stand in the way of the Government’s many missions and the prosperity of those living and working in the PRS.

Building more housing across tenures will help but takes time. Against the backdrop of a dramatically increasing household bills, the Government must act to reduce the cost of providing housing through the tax system and incentivise investment to kick start supply. If steps are not taken now, renters’ reform may be too late to achieve the change many want to see.

* Chris Norris is Policy Director for 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.

  •  G romit

    The Abolition of Sec.21 is still being fought by other organisations but the NRLA having thrown in the towel are undermining their efforts and doing a disservice to all Landlords. Anyone would think that they were Government lap dogs!

    Perhaps if the NRLA actually fought for Landlords rights they might get a few more members?

    Fery  Lavassani

    This government is after winning votes like the rest of them. Places such as Southampton or Liverpool are full of private tenants. The Tori party is banking on these tenant's votes. They do not care of the aftermaths of these reforms. NRLA sees itself in a done deal. Generation Rent, Shelter and the rest of them are taking advantage of a government deep in controversies, through their lobbies, to push for their agendas. Section 21 abolishment will not make such a difference. EPC will.

     
  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    There can be no more damning condemnation of the RLA take over and now called NRLA, than to admit that Govt's job of Controlling and continually imposing harsher regulation on the PRS, - has been made ' easier ' by the NRLA !

    If this was truly an Association that defended Landlords, Govt's job should be made ' harder '

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    ''Greater discretion with rent arrears'' surely non payment is theft, driving out of a fuel station without paying is theft, as is walking out of a supermarket without paying for shopping, I cannot see the difference here .

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    ... absolutely correct Andrew. Sadly, membership fees paid to an organisation [ NRLA ] that acquiesces with Govt is ' Deception '

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    All this means is more onerous restrictions on landlords, and nobody showing the govt the folly of their ridiculous and absurd tax policies. Somebody, somewhere needs to tell the govt straight exactly what the results of these policies are for the tenants, who ultimately suffer as a result.

    Take the tenant fees ban. Ostensibly a good thing, the reality was very different as now all it means is tenants paying more over a longer period of time. Take the end of S21 - tenants want it, but seemingly have no idea that they’ll face ever stiffer competition for housing as only the very best will be considered. Take S24 or SDLT - allegedly to hold landlords back whilst raising rents and homelessness significantly.

    I understand the govt don’t want to know, but this means they are wilfully ignorant and thus deliberately out to cause tenants trouble. We should not let them get away with it.

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    Government are not ignorant of the fact that raising costs for landlords will make it harder for tenants as well. It's obvious that the ultimate goal is to push everyone into home ownership by making renting as hard as possible for all sides, with particular hatred for small landlords.

     
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    An MP will never be told his party / government are wrong, they are all far too arrogant

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    I joined the NRLA sometime ago and pulled out when l realised that they were a government stooge organisation. And the government is going to trash and loot the very efficient and effective PRS sector and will hand it over to their very rich backers.

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    I never joined the NRLA, I have though been a member of Eastern Landlords Assoc since the early 90s, however I have now canceled my DDR to them, over the past few years they have become more of a club rather than an association representing landlords, I haven't seen them doing anything fighting our cause.

     
  • icon

    I don’t know if its unrecognisable from before the 1988 Act but Certainly unrecognisable from when the Tories got installed, they have done everything in their power to destroy PRS unbelievable even Labour couldn’t have got away with it and Conservative’s supposed the Champion of Private Enterprise.

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    What we have at present is not a Conservative party.

     
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    I am so busy lately didn’t get a chance to catch up on all the blogs. NLA was better before joining RLA and the guy in charge so fun of himself.
    I think they now have sidelines self interest or maybe connected subsidiaries like Insurance, Deposit Schemes, Accreditation Schemes and now pushing for Landlords Redress Scheme when they have Paul already signed up, a Company ready to go offering free initial Registration to get it up and running off the ground, do they not even know we are snowed under with bull sugar. We have a better chance currently dealing with directly with the Tenants to resolve issues, the last thing we need is them piggy in the middle. What they are going to do is gain extra concessions from the LL’s to take another hit. Certainly Tenants are not going to be coming up with more cash if this was the reason for conflict in the first place.

  • James Cornell

    If we cannot rely on these around us to balance the liabilities between landlords and tenants, while also factoring the inherent and obvious differences in goals from both sides (tenants want chear rents and better landlords; landlords want to achieve a profit and have tenants be responsible for the property they occupy) we must come up woth a solution for ourselves and put forward our solution. I think there are many on both sides who will actually sit at the table with great ideas to work for PRS. One area problem area that I see, is the tenants are now not wanting landlords to do work on the property so that rent remains low. This, of course over time, frustrates landlords because the market dictates a far higher rent than they are achieving and that's when a S21 comes into effect. Remove, refurbish and remarked at the correct level.

  • icon

    Step forward Amanda Cupples General Manager of AirBnB Europe, another one for the band waggon calling for the removal of Section 21 who are all about Short Let’s so don’t need the protection of S,21.
    Its disgraceful behaviour by her trying to win favour with the Government to help her to win favourable terms in the Renters Reform Bill. Also another agenda going on here the removal of S,21 will drive thousands of more Landlords into her clutches. Further damaging the Rental Market for Regular Tenants who wants stable Accommodation for one, two or three years as now . The Government has said they want longer Tenancies, a fat lot of good that is when LL’s have been forced to switch to AirBnB taking with them the Stock that would otherwise be available for Regular Renter’s, creating a scarcity. She has so cheek.

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    Short memories indeed only 2 years ago when Covid struck and Airplane’s stopped flying the AirBnB Landlords were glad to switch back to Regular Lettings causing problem problems for us but now they are on a roll back to AirBnB again while we were always there with Regular sustainable Renting despite being unfairly treated by Statute.

  • Matthew Payne

    Government policy should only be focussed on improving supply, especially when its policies of the last 5 years have in large part created that shortage in the first place. If that means swallowing the bitter pill of offering incentives to landlords now instead of publicly attacking them to win votes then so be it. I am sure most tenants wouldnt care about their landlords improving tax position if it meant rents came down, choice and accessibility improved, but goverment has to be honest first about what has happened to date. That said, I am sure those clever spin doctors in Tory HQ can come up with something that shows the Tories championing bringing rents down during a cost of living crisis that doesnt draw too much attention to how they achieve it.

  • David Saunders

    So if I'm reading this correctly, after outlawing section 21 the government are only to allow landlords to gain vacant possession of their flat or house if they promise to sell it ( and pay CGT) or move in and the penalties for then not doing so will be harsh in the extreme. Can you imagine a bank or investment manager trying to convince someone with £500,000 to invest along the lines of you can only withdraw your savings/investments to purchase certain items. Last one to leave PRS turn out the lights.



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