A new report has recommended that letting agents should be forced to sign up with a central register listing those operating within the private rental sector, including landlords.
Written by former housing ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith, his Consumer Rights in the Private Rented Sector has been paid for by The Smith Institute, a think tank that was founded during 1996 in memory of the late John Smith, former leader of the Labour Party.
The proposal to set up a national agent register mirrors similar proposals within Lord Best’s RoPA report and is just one of a dozen significant changes to the PRS it proposes to give tenants greater rights, protection and power.
Backed by former shadow housing minister John Healey, the report says tenants should be given the same rights as those who use financial services or utilities.
Other proposals which are likely to ruffle feathers within the industry include:
- Reform of redress and dispute resolution by introducing mandatory membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service for private rented sector landlords and lettings agents;
- Replacing ASTs with open-ended, flexible tenancies;
- Instigating a review of current deposit providers and, if they are found wanting, consider a government-run National Tenancy Deposit Scheme instead.
Meera Chindooroy, Deputy Director of Campaigns, Public Affairs & Policy at the NRLA, says: “We agree that tenants should be seen – and treated as – consumers within the PRS, but we would caution that the PRS is very different to other sectors this report mentions including financial services and utilities.
“Unlike in those sectors, ‘consumers’ in the PRS have responsibilities as well as rights.”