Raising standards in the Private Rented Sector
The private rented sector plays a key role in the housing market and accounts for around 14% of all housing in England. Everyone at some point in their life has lived in rented accommodation, maybe as a student living away at university or when moving out of the family home for the first time and being unable to afford to buy. The process of renting is, for the most part, an enjoyable and painless experience for many people. However, renting is not without its problems and issues, for both the Landlord and the Tenant.
In March 2008, the Government published an independent review (Rugg Review) of the problems faced by tenants and landlords in the private rented sector. In May 2009, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a paper that set out its response to the Rugg Review and proposals and ideas for improving the private rented sector.
The Government intends to implement the following proposals but advises that there is still a way to go before the measures are actually introduced. The proposals include:
- A Hotline for Private Tenants which will offer free practical advice
- A “Tripadvisor” style website comparing Landlords and allowing tenants to post comments
- A mandatory National Register of Landlords
- Regulation of Letting and Managing Agents
- Mandatory written tenancy agreements
- An increase of the threshold for Assured shorthold tenancies from £25,000 to £100,000 per annum
- Development of Local Letting Agencies to assist people in need of housing
- A Landlord Accreditation Scheme
- Improved redress for Tenants and Landlords in the Courts
All of the Government proposals are designed to improve standards in the private rented sector which can only be a good thing for tenants and landlords. However, it is important that the new measures are not unduly onerous on Landlords and instead target the rogue landlords, who are exploiting tenants, whilst being fair to good landlords.