At the Conservative Party Conference on 1st October Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government addressed mounting concerns over what he called “our broken housing market”.
Along with Mr Javid’s concern over the injustice faced by many struggling in the private rented sector he identified a number of proposed changes to make the system fairer and more closely regulated. He acknowledges that the barriers that currently stop young people owning their own property cannot be solved overnight and therefore focuses on how the private rental sector can be improved upon to offer safe, secure and good quality housing. This is especially important as the sector has more than doubled in the last 20 years.
So what are the proposed changes and what does this mean for the sector?
Two of the most significant changes proposed in the conference surround strengthening tenants’ rights in the sector whilst also protecting renters against poor practice. Notably the intention to ‘regulate’ all letting agents, where strict standards should be adhered to.
Similar systems have already been devised, such as that of the Scottish Government who ensure that all letting agents have met specific training requirements and follow a code of conduct for best practice. In addition, Rent Smart Wales legislation already states that all landlords and letting agents must either register or licence themselves and their properties. Self-managing landlords and agents also need to complete a relevant training course and pass a ‘fit and proper’ assessment to obtain a licence.
Secondly, Mr Javid states that it will also be compulsory for landlords to be a member of an ombudsman redress scheme allowing a quick and easy resolution to any issues that may occur.
It is believed that steps such as this will help to further professionalise the rental sector and make it easier for tenants to voice their concerns.
The intentions of the Government still need greater elaboration and clarification before we can fully understand how they will influence the sector.
What is a redress scheme?
A redress scheme is an independent service whose task is to resolve disputes, currently between letting agents and their consumers.
By law, all letting agents are required to join a government authorised consumer redress scheme. This allows landlords or tenants access to an escalated complaints system. A strict complaints process is followed whereby letting agents are obligated to comply and the decision or award made by the scheme is final.
Find out more about how redress schemes work here.
Finally, Mr Javid explains:
“Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own homes and we will make sure they do.”
The full extent of these proposed changes and their impact will likely become more evident in the coming months and forthcoming autumn budget.
Find out more about the latest industry news here.