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Industry leader: ‘PRS reform must come from a culture of collaboration’

Safeagent's CEO gets to grips with the challenges faced by the private rental sector during the pandemic, and the looming reforms.

Isobel Thomson

isobel thomson safeagent reforms

Whether reflecting on how the private rented sector dealt with the pandemic, or looking ahead to what the next few months might bring, one thing is clear: we need to work together to improve the system and support landlords, tenants and agents alike.

It should be obvious, but too often we forget that consensus building is essential in making good decisions. In a complex policy and regulatory environment, partnership and communication are key to creating clarity.

This was brought into sharp focus by the economic hardship caused by Covid-19. We should be heartened by the way we responded as a sector – landlords and agents created stability for tenants, prioritising safe and stable homes above all else. I’m proud too of the way our team at safeagent stepped up to the challenge and provided a range of supporting resources and guidance.

As is often the case, it comes down to being flexible, fair and having empathy. And that’s the spirit we need to embrace as we explore what the future of the private rented sector should look like.

Already, local authorities are increasingly the ones in the driving seat. It’s good to see efforts to tackle local sector challenges and bring forward new initiatives.

In the context of rising energy bills, inflation and a looming cost of living crisis, it’s understandable that measures such as price freezes can seem attractive.

Rent caps are one thing, but we also need to keep perspective and focus on longer term and wider market issues such as inadequate housing supply.  As a recent review from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) found, we must take a holistic view on reform and make sure policymaking is yes, you guessed it, collaborative. Otherwise, we risk yet again finding that change is ineffective.

Alongside new measures, let’s also make sure we are properly enforcing existing regulations.

Levelling up

As set out in the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, the forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill is likely to further enshrine the role of local authorities in regulating the rental market. This is a progressive and positive move – but it’s vital they have the resources and capability to enforce regulations as well as set them, and to educate those who need support in understanding the regulatory landscape.

So to truly embrace the spirit of reform and create a rental system that works for all, there has never been a more important time to work together.

Isobel Thomson is  Chief executive, safeagent

March 4, 2022

One comment

  1. Govt & Councils should be coming to us & saying:

    Mick, what can we do for u that is going to make u not sell all your houses and what can we do to entice more landlords in as we in the crap here, our hostels are full too and not emptying.
    We’re sorry we wanted all your 50 year old houses to have New build standards, we din’t realise that would result in impossible rents for benefit tenants.

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