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Government willing to listen to agents on rental reform, claims ARLA

The Association of Residential Letting Agents says the government is willing to listen to agents and other industry players ahead of its reform of the private rental sector.

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech suggested that the Renters Reform Bill, first mooted in 2019, would finally reach the House of Commons for consideration later this year, starting with a White Paper expected in the autumn to trigger more consultation.

Until now most industry bodies have been sceptical of the Bill, which centres around scrapping existing Section 21 eviction powers, improving the right to possession under Section 8, and introducing so-called lifetime deposits which make it easier and cheaper for tenants to move between rental properties.
However Timothy Douglas – policy and campaigns manager at Propertymark – says the fact that the government isn’t rushing into legislation is a good sign.

“The announcement … that the government will publish a Renters Reform White Paper in the Autumn demonstrates that Ministers are prepared to engage with the industry to understand the impact any substantial legislative changes will have on those involved in the private rented sector” he says.

“With the focus of the new package on lifetime deposits, landlord redress and greater enforcement, the government must look at ensuring that a system that would allow deposits to be passported can only take place if there is a bridging loan, with the government as the guarantor, in order to ensure the remaining part of the deposit is covered should the tenant default.

“Additionally, the government must prevent ‘double jeopardy’ and only extend redress membership to properties that are fully managed.”

He says that Propertymark will be engaging with MPs and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government “to ensure they fully understand the consequences of any changes.”

The National Residential Landlords Association has also backed the government’s route of writing a White Paper first.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadler states: “What is proposed amounts to some of the biggest changes in the private rented sector for over 30 years. We urge the Government and all others in the sector to use the time they now have to ensure that the reforms are fair and workable for both tenants and landlords.

“This must include comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties, the development of a new tenant-landlord conciliation service to help sustain tenancies wherever possible and court reform to ensure possession cases are dealt with much quicker than the year or more currently being taken.

“Lifetime deposits for tenants provide an opportunity to reduce the upfront cost of renting, but they need to work for all concerned.”

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