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Report slams lettings agents and landlords for making renting ‘unfair’

Nationwide and Shelter say the private rental sector needs major surgery in order to tip the balance of power towards tenants.

Nigel Lewis

shelter landlords letting agents

A report co-authored by one of the UK’s leading mortgage lenders has lambasted letting agents and landlords and called for radical changes, claiming that renting is ‘unfair on tenants’.

Shelter and the Nationwide have published Time for Change – Making Renting Fairer with cross party support including Labour but also Bright Blue, a Conservative think tank endorsed by Michael Gove.

Some of the report’s suggestions will familiar to agents who’ve read Lord Best’s Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) proposals including greater regulation of estate agents, an over-arching regulator for the property industry and better funding for councils’ housing enforcement.

But more politically dangerous suggestions include a national landlords’ registration scheme for England  and abolishing the government’s highly contentious Right to Rent immigration system.

More predictably, the report backs abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and giving tenants more power to assert their rights.

Unethical behaviour

Both letting agents and landlords get a drubbing in the report, which highlights examples of unethical or illegal behaviour by them.

This includes unauthorised entry into properties, not protecting rental deposits, rejecting applications in receipt of benefits and sexual harassment.

“We want to improve the lives of private renters by campaigning to make renting more stable, secure and accountable. We also want to tackle discrimination in the sector,” says a joint statement from Nationwide Chief Executive Joe Garner and Shelter chief Polly Neate (pictured, above).

“But many private renters are still faced with poor quality housing, poor landlord, housing management agent and letting agent practice2 and discrimination. Renters also face an underlying lack of security and power.”

November 5, 2020


  1. I think landlords should hand their title deeds over to their tenants. It’s only fair. We only worked hard to buy the properties….thats all.
    If a tenant is over 6 months in arrears…they get two of the landlords homes for free.

  2. Lets punish all Landlords & tenants with good houses to get back at the minority bad Landlords. So the good tenants that din’t have a problem now have to pay more, & their good Landlords pack up. Shelter really aren’t helping with comments like this. They want to register all Landlords? Well they’ve done that in Nottingham with Licensing, the bad ones ain’t come forward & rents have sky rocketed as has homeless.

  3. They won’t be happy until we are forced to take every tenant who applies to us, with no references, three cats and dogs, no deposit and no way of evicting them when they upset all the other tenants or burn the house down.
    We work hard to make sure all our properties are legally compliant. We pay fees to client money protect, fees to My Deposits, annual gas safety certificates, energy performance certificates. We can rent a three bedroom property to 10 people if they are in one family but if there are three sharers we then need to get the property licenced. We are not permitted to rent a room with a dorma window and are told to move the tenant out. It’s the landlords who now need protecting, not the tenants. The problem is there is more than enough legislation but the councils find it easier to keep pressure on us and treat us as cash cows instead of finding the huge number of landlords who are not keeping to the already hugely onerous legislation .

  4. With nearly 10 BILLION !£ of O/S Rent Annually ( Pre-Covid and 7 months to evict a bad tenant ) where exactly is this balance out of kilter ???

  5. I am surprised that Nationwide is so naïve to be criticizing their customers, who borrow from The Mortgage Works, a Nationwide subsidiary.

    They have forgotten the first rule of sales, “No one ever won an argument with a customer”.

    Nationwide is such a behemoth that clearly the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    Shelter is one of the “usual suspects” when it comes to calling for more regulation, whilst housing no one.

    There is plenty of regulation, just not enforced by local authorities.

    Shelter would get more “Bang for their bucks” by engaging with local authorities.

    Northampton Borough Council has invested in PRS enforcement team and are rooting out bad landlords and illegal HMOs.

    Most local authorities do not rate the PRS as a priority, so do not take action against bad landlords.

    That is where Shelter should be concentrating their fire power on and not on demanding even more legislation for the bad landlords to ignore and not be compliant with.

  6. Who would conceivably object to proposals to penalise landlords or agents involved in discrimination, sexual harassment or failing to protect a tenant’s deposit? However, there are already numerous civil and criminal avenues for tenants to pursue claims if this is happening. I don’t condone any of the illegal activity Shelter or Nationwide mention above, but the answer is not more regulation but better enforcement of the current myriad of laws that already exist.

    Even better, why not fund a specialised housing court system to deal with all these matters (except the criminal ones which the police should deal with) – it is something many industry partners have been calling for for years. This will give a fair and quick hearing to tenants, but also to landlords whose rights seem often to be ignored by Shelter.

  7. Perhaps shelter and Nationwide should consider that if things tip anymore in favour of tenants, there won’t be any landlords! – The things they cite are already illegal and that’s far enough. Whilst on the subject, perhaps Nationwide should start passing on all of the interest cuts to their borrowers before lecturing another industry on how to run theirs.

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