Email from the Department for Communities and Local Government:
The Government has published its Housing White Paper ‘Fixing our broken housing market’. The link to the Housing White Paper is here:
You will see that the white paper refers to improving safeguards in the Private Rented Sector and making renting fairer for tenants. I would like to bring your attention to paragraphs 4.31 to 4.35 which focus on driving up safety and standards in the sector, banning letting agent fees to tenants, and promoting longer tenancies.
The Private Rented Sector related paragraphs are below;
A fairer deal for renters
4.31 Over 4 million households now rent their home from a private landlord – nearly twice as many as ten years ago – and there are around 4 million leasehold homes in England. Standards in the private rented sector remain below those in the social and owner occupied sectors, but are improving: just 28% of homes are now non-decent compared to 37% in 2010. An increasing number of private tenants (65%) are happy with their tenure, compared to 48% in 2004-05.
4.32 Where there are concerns, these tend to focus on affordability and security. In the long term, building more homes will help with affordability, but renters often face upfront costs including fees charged by letting agents to tenants. Tenants have no control over these fees because the agent is appointed by and works for the landlord. This is wrong. The Government has already introduced transparency on fees. We will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants. This will improve competition in the market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they pay.
4.33 The Government will continue to drive up safety and standards in the private rented sector, and drive out the rogue landlords. The Government will implement measures introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which will introduce banning orders to remove the worst landlords or agents from operating, and enable local councils to issue fines as well as prosecute.
4.34 We are working with industry experts to consider whether we should take action to mandate electrical safety checks for rented properties and client money protection for letting agents as part of our efforts to raise standards and will set out next steps on this shortly. We have also set out our plans to extend mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which will ensure greater protection for thousands of vulnerable tenants.
4.35 The predominant use of 6 and 12 month contracts can mean that families who are renting need to move home before they had planned to, which can mean children moving school, alongside the uncertainty and costs associated with taking on a new rental property. According to a Shelter report last year an estimated 65,000 families say that they were forced to move their child’s school the last time they moved within the private rented sector. We are proposing to make the private rented sector more family-friendly by taking steps to promote longer tenancies on new build rental homes, as set out in chapter 3. We are working with the National Housing Federation and the British Property Federation to encourage longer-term tenancies in private rental homes delivered by housing associations and institutional investors. We will be speaking to the Local Government Association about local authorities’ appetite to do the same, where they are delivering market private rented housing through local housing companies. Further to this we will consider what more we can do to support families already renting privately, while encouraging continued investment in the sector.