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OPINION: England’s renting reforms are not ‘Armageddon’ – and we should know!

Senior Scot agent says similar seismic changes to his country's rental sector were not the disaster for landlords many predicted.

David Gibb

renting reform david gibb

Looking from a far, it’s interesting to see how agents are responding to the UK Government’s white paper on changes to the Private Rented Sector in England, and how some are calling it an ‘Armageddon’ for the renting sector.

As an agent who has worked in the Scottish PRS for nearly 20 years, we have seen several seismic changes to legislation north of the border, which have all been met with similar apocalyptic forecasts, however the four horsemen have failed to make an appearance… yet!

Over the last ten years we have seen the introduction of mandatory deposit protection, landlord and agent registration, a repairing standard, the removal of tenant fees, the creation of a dedicated housing tribunal and the creation of the Private Residential Tenancy (PRT).

The new tenancy regime was introduced in late 2017, which is an open-ended agreement, that allows a tenant to give notice but restricts the landlord to providing notice based on one of the eighteen grounds.

Renting

The removal of the fixed term, which allowed landlords to recover the property at the natural end of the tenancy was initially met with resistance from landlords and agents alike in Scotland. Evidence however would suggest the new tenancy agreement works well and allows the landlord to recover the property, if they are looking to sell, move in a family member or to remove a tenant who has breached a term of their contract.

When introduced, there were a few landlords who decided it was a good time to exit the market, however we did not see landlords leave in their droves.

Moreover, changes to tax treatment for landlords and a buoyant sales market has swayed more landlords to remove their properties from the PRS market over the last 24 months than the introduction of the PRT.

Landlords and agents who operate within the law, should not fear the renting changes proposed by the UK Government. As I stated, similar changes up here had very little effect for agents and overall has led to the sector becoming more professional, with landlords and tenants alike receiving a higher standard of service and more positively, has seen the “rogue landlord” element removed from the market, although it hasn’t stamped them out.

I would also offer encouragement to my colleagues operating down south that while the white paper does propose significant changes to existing regulations, it makes no mention of rent controls which are now being proposed by the Green MSP, Patrick Harvey in the recent consultation in Scotland called “A new deal for tenants”.

Given the nature of these proposals, it may well signal the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse for the PRS in Scotland.

David Gibb is Operations Director at Scots firm Tay Letting Ltd.

June 23, 2022

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