Report on PRS welcomed by landlords, but more homes are needed

Although recent proposals from MPs to reform the private rented sector, following the release of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee’s report on the Government’s planned changes to the market, have mostly been welcomed, landlords have been keen to highlight that the proposals will mean nothing unless more homes are built.

Related topics:  Landlords,  PRS,  NRLA,  reform
Property | Reporter
10th February 2023
To Let 925

In its report, the Committee warns that: “It is not clear whether the Government fully appreciates the extent to which an unreformed courts system could undermine its tenancy reforms.”

Whilst the report calls for the development of a specialist housing court, it sets out how, at the very least, measures are needed to considerably speed up the time it takes for the courts to process legitimate possession cases. Specifically, it states how matters relating to rent arrears or anti-social behaviour require a swift response from the courts.

The Committee report concludes:

· All forms of anti-social behaviour by tenants should be mandatory grounds for possession even if a criminal conviction has not been made. Suitable guidance for the courts should be developed to ensure such cases are dealt with swiftly and with certainty about the outcome.

· Student tenancies should be exempt from plans to make every tenancy open-ended. It warns that the Government’s current plans “could make letting to students considerably less attractive to private landlords, as the student market mirrors the academic year and benefits greatly from 12-month fixed tenancies.”

· That “the most serious challenge currently facing many private renters is neither security of tenure nor housing conditions, but the high cost of renting caused by the housing crisis.” Mirroring the NRLA’s calls ahead of the Budget, the Committee recognises the value of private landlords by calling on the Government to: “review the impact of recent tax changes in the buy-to-let market with a view to making changes that make it more financially attractive to smaller landlords.”

· For benefit claimants: “The real issue is twofold: there are not enough homes for rent, and local housing allowance rates have not kept pace with the market in recent years.” The Committee calls on the Government to unfreeze housing benefit rates to ensure they cover average rents.

Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “We warmly welcome much of today’s report and thank the Committee for taking on board many of the arguments we have made.

“The NRLA has never been against reform of the sector, but it has to be fair and workable for both tenants and landlords. That is why the Committee is right to call for court reform to underpin the ending of Section 21, changes in plans for student tenancies and ensure cases of anti-social behaviour are prioritised by the courts.

“As the Committee rightly notes, the biggest challenge faced by many renters is that there are not enough homes to rent. All the protections in the world will mean nothing for tenants if the homes are not there in the first place. That’s why the Government should accept the Committee and the NRLA’s call for a full review of the impact of recent tax changes in the sector.”

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