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Posted on February 6th 2015 by admin-movingin

Lettings guru sets out 10 key reforms for sector

One of Britain’s leading property experts has called for 10 changes in the private rental sector that would, she claims, improve and safeguard the industry at a time of change and political scrutiny. 

Kate Faulker, managing director of consultancy Designs on Property, has written a 41 page report which may prove one of the most comprehensive snapshots of the current private rental sector, its recent history and future potential.

The report outlines that the sector works well for most tenants, landlords and agents but it does fail a proportion, notably through the condition of rented property and eviction. 

Faulker says that while most tenants do not live as second-class citizens and with legally rented properties typically safer to live in than many owned homes, more social and affordable homes are needed to support socially vulnerable and low paid workers.  

“In reality though, the PRS cannot be squeezed to solve affordability issues which exist due to a lack of building enough homes” she explains.

The document is a useful scene-setter ahead of the general election, in which the future size, shape and regulation of the rental market is likely to be a key battleground.

Faulker’s 10 recommended changes are:

1. The creation of a 15-point checklist which agents, landlords and tenants can undertake to determine that a rental property is legally let, especially regarding electrical checks;

2. Compulsory client money protection for all letting and managing agents;

3. A taxation system where rented properties are treated as businesses, encouraging landlords to invest;

4. A rental market free from controls;

5. A tick box on council tax forms to say a property is rented;

6. Uniformity, so that all landlords and letting agents must adhere to the same standard within the self-regulated sector, eg place the PRS code on the statute books and ensure all letting agents sign up to the Landlord Rental Standard;

7. Existing and new regulations to be enforced with a realistic budget, eg, penalty notices for tenant/landlord offences, proceeds to be kept by the local authority and re-invested in further enforcement and education;

8. Cross government, industry and organisations agree to educate tenants and landlords from one source;

9. Ensure the ‘how to rent’ guide is included in the national and higher education curriculum under the Personal Finance Education Group and the NUS;

10. Mandatory CPD training for all involved in the PRS (e.g. lenders, insurers, landlords, letting agents, charities, housing associations) on property conditions and maintenance.

“The future of the private rental sector is bright if we expand the excellence that already exists and properly enforce the existing rules and regulations. Perhaps most importantly will be MPs, local authorities, the self-regulated industry and other relevant organisations coming together to discuss the improvements necessary to improve the PRS for all those involved” says Faulker.

The report has been welcomed by ARLA’s managing director David Cox who says “there is currently little empirical data on the private rented sector which makes it difficult for ministers and policy-makers to make informed, evidence-based decisions.”