Communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced a raft of proposed lettings regulations during his speech yesterday at the 2017 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, while also revealing that the proposed lettings fees ban legislation is about to be published.
The most radical of the new proposals is to force letting agents to join a professional organisation and meet “certain minimum standards”, effectively introducing regulation of the industry by the back door.
The comment came during a tub-thumping speech that described the housing market as “broken” and that things where so bad he said “Jeremy Corbyn is being taken seriously” about housing – the Labour leader last weekend announced plans to introduced rent controls should labour the voted in at the next election.
Sajid also said that although the Conservatives want to see more people own their homes, he admitted the chance of achieving this for many millions of Brits is now much slimmer than previous generations. “People are three times more likely to be renting than before” he said.
But as well as saying “all agents must be regulated”, he also revealed several measures aimed at strengthening the “rights of people who rent”.
New redress scheme
These include requiring all landlords to join a national redress scheme to enable tenants to complain about poorly management properties and ‘rogue landlords’, as well as a ‘housing court’ where grievances will be judged.
Also, as well as a compulsory minimum 12-month rental period “for those who want it”, Sajid revealed that he will introduce a minimum three-month notice period for landlords seeking ‘no fault’ notices to quit.
His measures are not a surprise – problem within the lettings industry have been well publicised for some time now.
Recent research by Homelet revealed that 28% of tenants are not happy with their landlords while over 80% of tenants say they intend to rent for more than a year – and only 8% want to rent for just six months.
What do the professional bodies say?
“After 20 years of our campaigning falling on deaf ears, we’re very pleased the Government has taken the decision to regulate the private rented sector,” says David Cox, CEO of ARLA Propertymark.
“This will be the single greatest step forward in a generation, in terms of consumer protection for private tenants, and will do more to clean up the image of the industry than the hundreds of smaller laws and pieces of legislation introduced over the last 20 years.
“However, regulation can take different forms and we need to see the detail of proposal to be confident that it will be effective for tenants and landlords.”
Isobel Thomson, NALS CEO (pictured, right) said in response:
“The measures in the Minister’s speech are very welcome news, giving clear confirmation that the Government is adopting a coherent, strategic approach to the Private Rented Sector for the benefit of consumers,” she says.
“NALS and the Fair Fees Forum called earlier this year for both the fee ban and introduction of mandatory client money protection to be framed within wider regulation as the only way to ensure that all agents meet the same requirements and consumers are protected. We are delighted that Government has listened. We look forward to engaging with Government to take forward all of the measures they have announced.”