Importance Of Letting Agents Must Be Enhanced
The government has been warned by trade body Propertymark that the controversial Renters Reform Bill must fairly reflect the importance of letting agents.
The Bill is scheduled to receive its Second Reading in the House of Commons today, with its main provision being the abolition of Section 21 eviction powers.
A statement from Propertymark says it’s actively engaged with MPs on the content of the Bill throughout the summer and during the party conferences.
Timothy Douglas, Propertymark’s policy and campaigns manager, says: “Now that the green light has finally been given for Second Reading of the Renters Reform Bill, MPs and Peers must ensure the vital role and importance of letting agents is reflected fairly in the Bill.
“Without enhancing the role of letting agents through regulation, it is unlikely that tenants will see improved standards and many landlords will be left to navigate the more complex legal environment they will be operating in.
“We remain concerned about the removal of fixed term tenancies and agents and landlords need confidence in the capacity of the court system to deal with the changes and ensure that the revised system of grounds is robust enough to ensure landlords can get their property back when things go wrong.
“It is imperative the Bill is evidence based and works for tenants, letting agents, and landlords. and we stand ready to support the UK Government to ensure the Bill is workable.”
The Bill delivers the Tories’ 2019 manifesto commitment to abolish section 21 evictions which will – in the government’s words – “empower renters to challenge poor landlords without fear of losing their home.“
The new Bill also claims to “protect” over two million landlords, making it easier for them to recover properties when they need to – so they can sell their property if they want to, move in a close family member, or when tenants wilfully do not pay rent.
Notice periods will also be reduced where tenants have been irresponsible – for example breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property.
There will also be a “reformed courts process … for the minority of evictions that do end up in the courts, more of the process will be digitised – reducing delays.”
A new mandatory Ombudsman for landlords will be introduced while a new digital Property Portal will list landlords’ obligations “and help tenants make better decisions when signing a new tenancy agreement.”
Tenants will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home, which the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse.
Landlords will be able to require pet insurance to cover any damage to their property.
The government will also bring forward legislation as part of the Bill to:
– apply the Decent Homes Standard to the private rented sector for the first time;
– make it illegal for landlords and agents to have blanket bans on renting to tenants in receipt of benefits or with children:
– strengthen councils’ enforcement powers and introduce a new requirement for councils to report on enforcement activity.