March 19, 2014

Creating a fair and flexible private rented sector

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins recently emphasised the need to create a fairer, more flexible private rented sector, raising standards of property conditions and rooting out the rogue landlords.

He called on landlords and tenants alike to come forward and offer their views on what more the government can do to tackle this problem, and further boost the growing sector.

In particular, the minister asked for views on possible measures including:

  • tackling ‘retaliatory eviction’ where a minority of landlords evict their tenants in response to a request for repairs to the property
  • requiring landlords to repay rent where they have let a property that contains serious hazards and/or have illegally evicted a tenant
  • the need for various safety measures in rented homes, such as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and regular electrical checks

The government has already introduced a range of measures, including providing councils with over £6.5 million to tackle rogue landlords in their area.

But with 83% of tenants happy with the service they receive, ministers are determined to ensure good landlords are not affected by efforts to tackle the minority of rogue operators.

Kris Hopkins said: “Tenants have a right to live in homes that are safe. But the reputation of our private rented sector is being tarnished by a tiny minority of poor operators who flout the rules and offer substandard accommodation.

Already we’ve provided over £6.5 million to councils to deal with the problem in their area - but I want to see what more we can do to root out rogue landlords, while ensuring good landlords who obey the rules are able to rent out their quality homes free from red tape.

Mr Hopkins also pledged to address the “outdated and unworkable” laws that prevent London homeowners renting their properties out on short-term lets to tourists.

Currently, anyone wanting to rent out their home for less than 3 months has to seek planning permission, as this is considered a change of the property’s use.

During the 2012 Olympics, homeowners looking to rent out their properties to people coming to enjoy the Games found themselves foul of the law.

This dates back over 40 years and only applies to properties in the capital - homeowners in the rest of the country are free to rent out their homes for as long or short a period as they wish.

There is clear demand for short-term lets on London properties. Latest figures show there were 4.9 million overseas visitors to London between July and September last year alone, while the travel website AirBnB lists over 7,500 properties in London alone - many of which will be offered by landlords completely unaware of this law.

This is in addition to the thousands of properties advertised via the websites to people looking for short-term lets, as they take up new jobs in the capital.

At Royds, we have a wealth of knowledge in advising individuals and landlords on any new regulations which may affect them, including tenancy and letting agreements.

For more information, please visit our website or contact Gareth Williams or Robert Lloyd-Davies.

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