Weight of intervention in rented sector means Government must think more strategically, new minister told

The huge amount of change being introduced by the Government in the private rented sector (PRS) means that it needs to think more strategically about its approach, a leading association has warned.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) urged the new Minister for the Private Rented Sector, Heather Wheeler, to consider the way in which the Government tackles the sector.

It was one of several organisations at the meeting last week, including the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), ARLA Propertymark, the National Landlords Association (NLA), and RICS.

The RLA also renewed its call for a dedicated housing court, which it said would give landlords and tenants greater confidence that when things go wrong they can get access to justice more quickly and less expensively.

It said: “This is crucial for landlords who might be prepared to offer longer tenancies to those who want them but who are fearful of being locked into a tenancy and unable to swiftly regain possession of their property if tenants are failing to pay their rent or are committing anti-social behaviour.”

RLA policy director, David Smith, who attended the meeting said: “We welcome the Minister’s early engagement with the sector and her positive attitude towards supporting the majority of landlords who provide good housing and abide by all their responsibilities.

“It provides a good starting point as the RLA works with the Government to ensure the rental sector is fit for its changing role and works for tenants and landlords.”

Meanwhile, NLA chief executive Richard Lambert addressed the issue of standards in the sector, welcoming the Government’s support for the Fitness for Human Habitation Bill and urged the Minister to prioritise enforcement activity to tackle rogue operators.

He said: “With its self-professed focus on tackling the housing crisis, it is vital that the Government recognises and supports the prominent role that the private rented sector plays in housing over 20% of UK households.

“Through the forthcoming ban on letting fees and other proposals, the Government has shown it is more than willing to intervene in markets when it perceives them to be failing consumers.

“We urge the Minister and her colleagues to work with the NLA and others to ensure that any intervention made is necessary, proportionate and maintains a fair regulatory regime within which landlords can continue to run their business.”

A spokesperson for NALS said: “NALS was also at the meeting, which gave industry the opportunity to meet with the new minister to establish priorities for our sector. We discussed a number of issues, including enforcement, licensing and the fee ban.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are committed to delivering a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector and want to support good landlords and agents to comply with their responsibilities.

“We will be introducing banning orders in April to make it easier for local authorities to act against rogue landlords and agents, we will be requiring all letting agents to meet minimum standards and are consulting with the judiciary on the case for a housing court.

“We are grateful to private rented sector organisations for their constructive input to date and are committed to working with them as this important agenda continues. The Minister looks forward to engaging further with the sector and welcomed the constructive dialogue.”


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