The residential lettings industry in Britain is set to face even more reform after a new regulatory framework is to be set up.
Heather Wheeler MP, the Housing Minister, announced at last months ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) conference that more changes will be made to the lettings sector. This will follow the Tenant Fees Bill which will be in force from 1st June, and compulsory changes to rules concerning client money protection, which have only just been introduced.
The two new measures, Ms Wheeler explained, will mark the introduction of a new framework for regulation, which is currently being drawn up by the Regulation of Property Agents, a working party which has been placed under Lord Best’s leadership.
It is expected that the working group tasked with setting up the framework will report back to the Housing Minister with their recommendations shortly, and Ms Wheeler has indicated that these will influence the reform. She also told the conference delegates that more industry-wide regulation is needed in order to improve fairness within the sector.
She emphasised that there is still much to do in terms of increasing the standards of the private rented sector, which is why more change is needed.
The MP also informed the conference that a conclusive report based on an assessment of selective licensing schemes will be published shortly. The review was first promised in 2015, and finally began in October 2018.
The Housing Minister also hinted that one of the forthcoming changes would relate to longer tenancies and revealed that the recent call from the government for evidence on the matter had attracted more than 8,700 responses, with officials currently formulating a reply. She also confirmed that concerns from landlords about regaining possession of their rental property would be addressed.
Ms Wheeler stated that she is satisfied with the progress which has been achieved so far in the ambition of raising the standards within the lettings industry but further explained that more changes are to be introduced, in addition to the regulation which is already in place, with the goal of providing the public with increased confidence in the private rented sector, and making all aspects of the industry fair.
Delegates were intrigued to hear that support exists for a reassessment of the Tenant Fees Act, as well as commitment to discard the measure if the review demonstrates evidence of a trend of increasing rents however those within the industry stated this was unlikely bearing in mind that Scotland’s Tenant Fee Ban has been in place since 2012 and Wales is shortly to go through the same process and legislative change.
Chief executive at ARLA, David Cox, compared the regulations and changes faced by the industry to a tsunami, and went on to warn the attendees about how complex the Tenant Fees Act is and the profound impact on the whole industry.
He commented: “The sector must not also underestimate the importance of a thorough inventory. They provide certainty for all involved, add clarity at the end of a tenancy, and help resolve disputes.
“In the new world after the tenant fees ban comes in agents will need to take an evidence-based approach to default fees, damages and disputes. Only by ensuring that an inventory took place can agents protect their clients’ investments and reduce costs in the long-run.”
Other points of note made during the conference included the comments by Gillian Kent, Chair of Howsy, the online letting agent, who suggested that efficiency alone could yield income for letting agents struggling to understand how to manage the fee ban.
Tipi’s head of leasing, Jennie Fojtik, however, emphasised the importance of data during the event, and claimed that this is the number one pivotal advantage which some letting agents are gaining.
If you’re looking for further training and information surrounding the tenant fee ban, register for free online inventory clerk and letting agent training today.