The parliamentary Select Committee that watches over housing has published its recommended reforms of the private rented sector (PRS) after months of evidence gathering from experts that began in early January.
It’s been an exacting and detailed cross examination of the industry’s representatives and structure that is unlikely to be repeated very soon, given the window of opportunity created by the current political momentum to sort out the UK’s ‘broken housing market’.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s desire to root out the worst, and praise the best of the PRS is evident within the report.
And its recommendations will hold sway at top levels of government. Five years ago, a similar enquiry into the PRS suggested changes that have steered the current government’s overhaul of the industry – including the fees ban.
Here’s what the Select Committee recommends the current government gets stuck into.
- Tenants should be even more protected against retaliatory evictions, unfair rent increases and harassment.
- Plans for a housing court to deal with tenant complaints should be brought forward sooner.
- Legislation that deals with the PRS should be reviewed and simplified
- A more straightforward and publicly available standard setting the minimum quality standard of PRS housing should be published.
- Councils should be given the powers and money to uphold standards and bear down more heavily on rogue landlords and agents.
- Fines for errant landlords should be significantly larger and properties should be confiscated in the worst cases.
- Selective licensing schemes should be more local and politically accountable.
“We welcome the careful and considered scrutiny the Committee has given to the PRS,” says Isobel Thompson, CEO of NALS (pictured, below).
“The issues facing the sector are clearly highlighted, with the inevitable conclusion to be drawn that Government must show vision and produce a coherent strategy to address identified failings.
“NALS believes the majority of tenants enjoy safe and secure tenancies, but there are those – whether agents or landlords – who consistently flout the law with no penalty.
“We are pleased to see that the report underlines what consumers need most – proper, effective enforcement.”
“The proposal for a Law Commission review of legislation is an interesting one, but we would be concerned that it may take some time to deliver. For those in the PRS who are facing difficulties now they need a solution sooner rather than later.”