“Stop blaming letting agents for rental sector problems” Lettings expert comments on landmark report

sale-signsEarlier this week, The Evolving Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential, was published by Dr Julie Rugg and David Rhodes. This landmark report on private renting outlined the “confused and contradictory” nature of regulation, as well as a sector that is “failing at multiple levels”.

However, Kate Faulkner, who runs the Propertychecklists consultancy, as well as working closely with consumer group Which?, has backed the report but has also highlighted the issue of landlords and letting agents being scapegoated for wider problems in the sector.

“I am delighted that this much needed report is now in the open. I hope very much that it will encourage more sensible content and conversations from the industry, government and tenant groups, reported in a balanced way in the media – all of which will ultimately benefit the key consumer in this market: renters” Faulkner says.

Critically, Faulkner also rebuked the scapegoating of landlords and letting agents for the sectors problems, adding: “The current rhetoric blaming landlords and/or letting agents for any problems in the private rental sector is wrong. Rather than encouraging landlords and agents to put decent roofs over people’s heads at an affordable price, it makes tenants the biggest losers.”

The report by Dr Rugg is a follow-up to a 2008 examination of the sector by the same authors.

The report builds upon its predecessor, outlining a sector where landlords and tenants alike are unsure of their rights and responsibilities. The pair also claim many homes are in a poor condition with bad management being the primary cause of poor conditions, rather than old housing stock.

Alongside poor conditions and contradictory regulation, the report also identifies:

  • Newcomers to the sector, such as Build to Rent are increasingly focused on helping higher and middle-income renters, with no help for those on low incomes.
  • The need for a mandatory national landlord and letting agent register. In this system, penalty points would be accrued for contravening regulations, leading to a ban if sufficient points are awarded.
  • A new annual property ‘MoT-style’ certificate, required by law to let a property, in addition to wider welfare reforms to improve ‘safety nets’ for many renters.

On discussing the impact of the report on the future of the sector, Faulkner says: “I can’t wait to see what happens next. I hope very much that this excellent review will be listened to by MPs and those wanting real change in the sector rather than creating headlines for headline’s sake.

“It’s time to put tenants first and to help ensure they feel they are in a sector where they will be well looked after, whatever their budget, rather than constantly telling them they are getting a raw deal and should expect to be treated badly.”


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