The announcement last week has raised concern, not the least for being so ambitious since Eric pickles intends to announce the framework of change in the very near future.
Rogue landlords will be targeted in a new drive to stop people being ripped off when they rent a flat or house.
The package of proposals will ensure England’s 9 million private tenants:
- Avoid hidden fees from unscrupulous letting agents
- Get proper protection from rogue landlords
- Can request long-term rental deals that cut costs and provide stability for their family
- Feel confident to demand better standards and management of their property by landlords
The proposals reinforce existing policies, including the £1 billion Build to Rent scheme, which is delivering newly-built homes specifically for private rent.
As part of the second round of the Build to Rent scheme, bidders are encouraged to offer longer-term, family friendly tenancies as part of the mix of rented accommodation being offered.
Eric Pickles said:The private rented market is a vital asset to this country. It’s an important option for the millions of people who want a bit more flexibility, or to simply save up for a deposit so they can buy a place of their own.
This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity.
The proposals hope to raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, and sharpen the tools available to tenants and councils so we can root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector.
These measures will also give tenants the know-how to demand longer-term tenancies that cut costs and meet their needs – and when things do go wrong, the confidence to take action without fear of eviction or harassment.
Mr Pickles announced that, within days, he would publish new regulations that will force letting and property management agents to join a compulsory redress scheme. 3,000 agents, 40% of the entire industry, have yet to join one of the schemes, which will ensure tenants’ complaints about hidden fees and poor service are investigated independently, and where a complaint is upheld, they receive compensation.
The minister also revealed that, for the first time the government will publish a new code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rented sector, with a view to making it statutory to provide greater confidence for tenants in what they can expect.
The publication of a draft of a new tenant’s charter is also anticipated. The charter will help tenants understand what they should expect from their rental deal, and how they can take action if they are the victim of hidden fees or poor standards of accommodation.
In addition, there will be a timetable for the introduction of a model tenancy agreement, which landlords can use to offer longer tenancies of 3 years or more, which will, provide extra security and stability for families.
There is also a focus on producing extra guidance for local councils on how to protect tenants from illegal eviction, how to push for harsher penalties before magistrates for housing offences where these have a real impact on peoples’ lives, and to plan for new private rented developments in the future, including on their own land.
The Secretary of State also announced that:
- A mortgage lenders summit will consider how lenders can make it easier for landlords to offer longer tenancies that benefit families.
- The government will review the process by which tenants can raise concerns about the standard of their private rented property and the response they should expect from their council in enforcing standards of safety and hygiene
- The review will also consider requiring landlords to repay rent where a property is found to have serious hazards. This could include allowing councils to recoup housing benefit so that taxpayers’ money is not used to support landlords who provide sub-standard property.
The guidelines will also support existing measures to improve the private rented sector, including:
- The £1 billion Build to Rent scheme, will deliver newly-built homes specifically for private rent – and, as part of the second round of the scheme which is currently open, bidders are encouraged to offer longer-term, family friendly tenancies as part of the mix of rented accommodation being offered.
- A £3 million fund for councils in England will help them tackle acute and complex problems with rogue landlords, and build on work to tackle ‘beds in sheds’, where £2.6 million was provided to 9 councils and backed by a ministerial task force. More than 500 illegally rented outhouses have been discovered since 2011 and action is being taken against the owners.
- The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will provide magistrates’ courts with the power to impose unlimited fines on landlords who are found guilty of not meeting their statutory responsibilities. These powers will be complemented by Schedule 16 to the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which will allow the courts to take account of an offenders assets as well as his income which will help tackle rogue landlords who have limited documented income but significant assets.
- The Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act 2010 has increased protection for tenants from repossession if their landlord faces mortgage difficulties..
www.communities.gov.uk for further information