Eric Pickles announces plans for private rented sector

The Government has published its plans for changes to the private rented sector.

The announcements come as part of their response to the CLG Select Committee's recommendations for reform published earlier this year. The proposals which Eric Pickles has placed at the top of the agenda are:

  1. New regulations will force letting and property management agents to join a compulsory redress scheme. It will complement the work of the tenancy deposit schemes, independently investigating tenants' complaints about hidden fees and poor service and where a complaint is upheld, they receive compensation.
  2. A new code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rented sector, with a view to making it statutory
  3. A new 'Tenant’s Charter'. The charter will help tenants understand what they should expect from their rental deal, and how they can take action if they are the victim of hidden fees or poor standards of accommodation.
  4. Introduction of a model tenancy agreement, which landlords can use to offer longer tenancies of 3 years or more, which will, provide extra security and stability for families.
  5. Extra guidance for local councils on illegal eviction, housing offences, and to planning for new private rented developments.

In general the changes have been welcomed both by tenant and industry bodies.

Steve Harriott, CEO of TDS posted his reponse on the TDS blog, raising some questions about the new Tenant's Charter - read his article here.

Useful links:

The Residential Landlord Association also announced their support for the Tenants' Charter here.

ARLA welcomed the announcement but expressed disappointment that the Government has not opted to make letting agents subject to the same requirements as sales agents. Letting agents will not be required to have client money protection or professional indemnity insurance, and the Office of Fair Trading will not be given the power to ban agents who act improperly. ARLA's response can be read here

Shelter also welcome the proposals as a crucial first step, but say the Government must make sure the plans are put into action - read Shelter's response here.

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, has commented on the Government’s response to the Committee’s Private Rented Sector report. Mr Betts said:

“I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of the recommendations in our private rented sector report. The proposals for a tenants’ charter and model tenancy agreements reflect our calls for greater awareness of rights and responsibilities.

"Far too often the security needed by families is not being provided by the private rented sector. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has listened to what the Committee said about the need for more family friendly tenancies. It is also welcome that the Government is taking forward our proposal to allow rent and housing benefit to be clawed back when landlords have been convicted of letting out dangerous property.

“Whilst these warm words are welcome, the Committee will be watching closely to ensure that they are translated into action. We will also press to ensure that the Government’s gathering of information on selective licensing leads to action to raise standards.

“Much remains to be done if renting is to become an attractive alternative to owner occupation. It is disappointing, therefore, that the Government does not see fit to crack down on cowboy letting agents and their rip off fees and charges. It is also regrettable that the Government has declined to give local authorities the powers and freedom they need to improve housing in their areas.”

17th October 2013

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