Landlords remain in limbo over government's lack of clarity on future of PRS

Landlords are desperate for greater clarity on the government's vision for private renters, according to the AIIC.

Related topics:  Landlords,  PRS,  Renters reform Bill
Property | Reporter
26th October 2023
Gov 99
"While it is encouraging that the Government has recognised that the court system needs to be upgraded and the current waiting time for hearings massively reduced, there is no indication of how long this will take or exactly how it will be achieved"
- Daniel Evans - AIIC

Landlords are desperate for greater clarity on the government's vision for private renters, according to the AIIC.

Uncertainty over Government plans for the Private Rented Sector, including the controversial Renters (Reform) Bill, has left the industry in a state of confusion, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.

Daniel Evans, the association's Chair, said there were not enough available homes to satisfy hard-pressed tenants and landlords were holding fire on investment because of the lack of clarity over a Government vision for the PRS

It is five months since the Bill – said to be the most radical shake-up of the PRS in a generation – was introduced in Parliament and it received a Second Reading just this week but only after the Government paused its long-promised scrapping of Section 21, ‘no-fault’ evictions until after improvements are made to the way courts process possession cases.

The decision to put it ‘on hold’ came in a Government response to a report from the Commons Select Committee on Housing. The abolition of Section 21 was widely regarded as the centrepiece of the legislation and there was no indication of when the Government will be in a position to proceed with that specific reform.

Meanwhile, the Bill continues to its Committee Stage where it will undergo line-by-line scrutiny by MPs.

Other proposed measures include legislation making it easier for tenants to keep pets in properties and new rules preventing landlords from excluding families with children and those in receipt of benefits from their properties.

Evans said: “While it is encouraging that the Government has recognised that the court system needs to be upgraded and the current waiting time for hearings massively reduced, there is no indication of how long this will take or exactly how it will be achieved.

“But there is still the firm intention that, in the end, Section 21 will be scrapped.”

Evans said the entire sector and all those who supply it have been left in limbo.

He explained: “We’ve been told that there are some measures that may or may not be added at a later stage. As the Bill stands currently it’s like a half-baked cake.

“Meanwhile, demand for rented properties has gone through the roof because many thousands of landlords have already sold up and left the sector – some of them because of the fear of the abolition of Section 21.

“Potential first-time buyers are staying in rented accommodation longer because higher interest rates and tougher mortgage rules have made it harder for them to get on the property ladder.

“As a result, rents are continuing to rise and those landlords that are left are wondering which way to turn. These are investors, businesspeople and they are desperate for clarity.”

Last month, the Government paused plans to introduce tougher Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) for rented homes – a measure that had been flagged up for introduction in 2025.

Evans adds: “Of course, this was welcome news for some landlords who have, in the short-term, been saved from forking out for expensive insulating and energy-saving improvements.

“But many landlords, knowing that the MEES regulations were going to change, have already spent thousands on their properties making the upgrades. And some others, knowing that the necessary works would be too expensive for them, have already sold up and gone.

Evans concluded: “Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, described the PRS as having a ‘vital’ role to play in housing the nation. This kind of policy confusion creates chaos and helps no one.”

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