The industry regulator Propertymark attended the Renters Reform Bill Committee to debate the numerous concerns raised by its member Agents, further to the recent second reading of the Bill on October 23rd. We share with you the main topics that were debated, on November 14th.
Propertymark member data reveals a surge in demand, with a notable 32% increase recorded in August for rental properties, indicating a pressing need for expanded housing options.
Possession and Anti-Social Behaviour:
The deployment of court bailiffs has become a critical concern, particularly evident in London and now extending further. The shortage of PPE has hindered the progress of repossessions and evictions. Additionally, enhancing the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan demands a directive within statutory guidance to clearly define possession grounds for improved operational clarity.
Fixed and Periodic Tenancies:
The current dichotomy between fixed and periodic tenancies needs reconsideration. A more flexible approach, allowing for both options, would provide tenants and landlords with greater choice. Further, refining the student grounds requires detailed consideration to ensure practicality and safeguard the cyclical nature of student lets. A statutory definition for student lets, acknowledging their occurrence outside HMO’s, would add clarity to this aspect.
While endorsing the concept of housing courts, consideration should be given to conducting tribunals in public buildings to expedite the legal process, enhancing efficiency and accessibility.
Prioritizing the reinforcement of the Property Ombudsman’s authority is crucial. Addressing gaps in existing redress schemes for lettings agents requires urgent review before introducing additional regulatory layers. For instance, the absence of a mandatory complaints procedure and clear guidance leads to inconsistencies across the sector, highlighting the need for comprehensive reforms.
The UK Government has expressed its intention to introduce a novel basis for terminating student tenancies. Nevertheless, during the Committee discussion, I pointed out to the Minister that we lack specific information about this new student termination ground, making it challenging to evaluate its practical implications. Defining a student rental proves challenging due to the diverse range of students, fluctuating academic terms, mixed lease agreements, and the unique requirements of international students.
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