On 16 October 2013 the Government announced a range of measures to raise standards in the Private Rented Sector ( PRS) including:
The Department for the Communities and Local Government ( DCLG) has now released a discussion paper ( Paper) as the first step of its commitment to undertake that review into property conditions in the PRS.
The Paper recognises that the majority of tenants in the PRS are satisfied with the condition of their property. However, action needs to be taken for those properties that fall below acceptable standards.
Put simply, the Government’s objective is to force “Bad Landlords” to improve or to leave the industry without increasing the regulatory (and financial) burden on “Good Landlords”.
This is in addition to the desire (through mandatory redress schemes) to push “rogue” letting agencies out of the industry.
To achieve this DCLG needs the help of industry experts and has requested responses to the Paper by 28 March 2014.
The issues covered by the Paper are wide-ranging, from how best to publicise existing tenants’ rights and responsibilities to whether homeowners in Greater London should be able to enter into short lets without the planning application currently required.
The heart of the Paper asks some difficult questions about fundamental aspects of the buy-to-let structure for both landlords and lenders. These include whether serious disrepair by a landlord should prevent that landlord from regaining possession under section 21 and whether a landlord should be required to repay rent to a tenant where the rented property contains serious hazards.
The Paper is the latest in a series of Government proposals to reshape the PRS.
It is clear that the aim is to raise standards in the PRS with as little new regulation as possible. To achieve this, the Government needs to raise awareness amongst consumers of the existing regulatory protections and processes. It then needs to actively (and visibly) target those landlords and letting agents who breach those regulations.
Taking the current proposals for the PRS as a whole we believe that property professionals operating in the PRS should expect:
- a requirement to proactively and transparently inform tenants of their rights
- a number of highly publicised cases against “rogue” landlords and letting agents with large penalties being levied
- increased lender scrutiny of buy-to-let investments
What is clear is that the future of the PRS is being shaped now and the Paper is your chance to have your voice heard.
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