Government Urged To Rethink PRS Regulation
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) wants the Government to bring England in line with the rest of the UK by calling for greater regulation of the private rental sector to better protect tenants.
ARLA argues that tenants in England could soon be less well protected than their Scottish and Welsh counterparts, due to the delay by the Government to introduce laws allowing for better regulation of the lettings industry.
According to data released by ARLA, 36% of all households in England are in private sector rented accommodation and the lack of regulation of the Private Rental Sector (PRS) is fast becoming an issue that affects more of the population than ever before.
The Scottish government reviewed its strategy for the PRS on the 30th May, while the Welsh government is set to introduce a Housing Bill legislating for a compulsory licensing scheme for all letting agents in Wales, as well as a code of practice, before the end of the 2012/13 Assembly term.
The announcements by Scottish and Welsh parliaments are in stark contrast with the current UK Government’s stance of opposition to regulation of the Private Rental Sector because of an apparent fear that landlords will become bogged down and put off by having to wade through a mountain of red tape.
On the surface this seems incredibly thoughtful of the Government, however, it is not to be forgotten that they also intend for all landlords to become unpaid agents for the UK Border Agency policing the immigration status of all tenants. No matter how watered down that proposal becomes the intent of those in power was made clear – to tap into powerful resources to save themselves money. It does make you wonder if the reluctance for regulation is simply because the Government can’t find a way to financially benefit from introducing new regulatory legislation at this current time.
ARLA argue that while government opposition to PRS regulation continues, tenants in England will remain at risk from unscrupulous letting agents and rogue landlords.
ARLA Managing Director, Ian Potter, said: “The PRS remains an unregulated industry, and in the event of something going wrong consumers still only have limited options. ARLA has been calling for regulation of the sector for a number of years now, and as more and more people rent, rather than own their home, it is vital that legislation in England is at least in line with its neighbours. Of course we welcome the Labour Party’s latest policy review and share their ambition to improve standards in the PRS – the case studies the report outlined are a stark reminder of the unacceptable conditions that are thriving in the absence of regulation, but these reforms need to be proportionate. More importantly, what we really need is actual policy not proposals; and it must be policy that is consistent and able to keep step with legislative developments elsewhere in the UK. Renting should be a positive experience and tenants should know that not only is their money safe but so is the property they live in. All ARLA members must offer a redress service and client money protection to help protect tenants if something goes wrong.”
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