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TDS & Kate Faulkner call for stronger enforcement

Wednesday 03 May 2017

Leading property expert Kate Faulkner has called for stronger enforcement and streamlining of legislation in the private rental sector.

The founder of and consultancy firm Designs on Property Ltd. has urged major reforms in the sector in a report specially commissioned by the TDS Charitable Foundation, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s sister charity.

The report finds that the myriad rules and regulations in the sector are creating confusion among landlords, rental agencies, tenants and enforcement bodies. A typical English landlord must comply with around 150 rules and regulations, and even more if they want to let a property to someone in receipt of benefits.

“There are 4.4 million rental properties in England alone so reforming the market would help millions of people. Legislation should be streamlined and funding should be put in place to support enforcement,” Kate said.

She continued: “Legislation varies dramatically across the UK, with different rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Landlords are typically over 55, and employed full-time, so often struggle to keep up with what constantly changing legislation they need to be aware of, and what bodies are responsible for enforcing them.

“Trading Standards, the Home Office, the Competition and Markets Authority, and local councils all enforce elements of private rental policy, and there is no single point of guidance for landlords and agencies to make sense of where jurisdictions begin and end.

“As well as a disparity between enforcement bodies, there are geographical differences from county to county. In London alone, there is a huge difference in rates of rogue landlord prosecutions; according to the most recent figures available, Newham prosecuted 359, while Lambeth and Hammersmith each only managed nine.

“Local authorities, however, are not necessarily to blame. The issue needs to be tackled on a national level to ensure uniformity in enforcing laws designed to protect both tenants and landlords.

“Law-abiding agents and landlords are jumping through not inconsiderable hoops, and forking out to meet regulations, while the cowboys know enforcement is lax, and are cutting corners and costs.”

In the report, Kate claims that the lack of enforcement of regulations has created a two-tier rental market whereby legally let properties are available at a premium, while those who cannot afford it, must settle for sub-standard, illegal, or even dangerous homes.

It is also critical of policy being regularly tweaked or new legislation introduced without the necessary awareness campaigns and enforcement mechanisms.

Kate explained: “We need a coordinated national strategy on weeding out unenforceable, unclear, and confusing rules, and creating national standards, and enforcement policy. Whoever forms the next government must commit to backing an education campaign for those letting out property to inform them of the law, and how to raise complaints or issues.

“By tightening up on implementing legislation, tenants will know what to expect, and how to bring rogue landlords to heel. By tackling the causes of the current two-tiered rental market, the quality of the UK’s rental stock will increase, providing better homes for tenants, and better standards for landlords and agents.

The report, 'What impact is enforcement of rules and regulations having on the private rented sector?', was commissioned by Tenancy Deposit Scheme’s Charitable Foundation. TDS Charitable Foundation, has funded two previous reports into the sector; Who are our landlords? and Accidental landlords.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is owned and run by key bodies in the private rented sector: ARLA Propertymark, NAEA Propertymark, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). The TDS Charitable Foundation is funded by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and aims to promote better standrds in the private rented sector.

Read the full report