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16 November 2017

Universal Credit is in the news again for all the wrong reasons. We've lobbied the Government over our concerns about this recently introduced benefit, but real-life examples of tenant hardship were brought to the fore in a heated debate in the House of Commons yesterday. Read More...

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ARLA Propertymark signs cross-party letter calling for end to LHA freeze

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Chief Executive's update

Monday 13 November 2017

It’s been one of the busiest months we can remember here at Propertymark HQ with the Government having announced more consultations, reports and legislation than you can shake a stick at. With so much going on, as part of a running feature we take a look at how ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive David Cox has been spending his time serving our members’ interests.

Parties…no not those sort of parties!

Influencing politicians and key decision makers is a crucial part of our work and getting things done, keeping decision makers interested in what we’re doing, and getting them to act upon evidence we provide about the sector. A crucial part of this is attending the party conferences of the main political parties. They are the perfect opportunity to achieve a lot in a short space of time – somewhere where MPs, Lords, parliamentary and political staff and the media all come together at the same time.

David Cox was at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences this year making sure your interests were represented at a plethora of fringe meetings about housing and the private rented sector.

At the Labour conference he met with Baroness Hayter. Baroness Hayter is a key political component who takes a very active role in the House of Lords, bringing issues to the fore and debating all manner of topics relating to the lettings industry. She is someone who has been a useful ally in our campaign for mandatory CMP. He also held meetings with Helen Hayes MP (Communities and Local Government Select Committee), John Healey (Shadow Secretary of State for Housing) and several other MPs to talk about fees and regulation of the sector, including Lord Kennedy of Southwark, Shadow DCLG Minister in the Lords who has subsequently tabled parliamentary questions for us.

At the Conservative Party Conference David was able to secure time in the diaries of the Secretary of State and Housing Minister resulting in productive discussions following the announcement of regulation for letting agents. He also spoke to Kevin Hollinrake MP and who also sits on the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee, David Gaulke MP, Welfare Minister on Universal Credit and attended fringe meetings on a range property issues.

All-in all, they have been very productive meetings and have got ARLA Propertymark in front of people who will be debating the draft Tenant Fees Bill and will be making the decisions about regulation and CMP going forwards.

Other engagements – regulation and fees

Last month, David was at the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) conference when the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced the regulation of managing agents to protect leaseholders on top of regulation of letting agents already announced.

He also spoke on a panel debate at the Negotiator Conference and attended the awards dinner along with ARLA Propertymark President Sally Lawson.

In Parliament David tackled the big issues of letting agent fees and regulation head on with Shadow Housing Minister, Melanie Onn MP and Baroness Hayter, further engaging Melanie Onn MP on the Labour party's view on rent control. 

Immediately following the announcement on letting agent regulation, David secured a useful and productive meeting with senior officials at DCLG to talk about our views on regulation of the industry, and these talks continue. 

David also attended his regular quarterly meeting at the Lettings Industry Council (TLIC), where, along with other industry professionals discussed current issues, shared ideas and proposed solutions.

The Lettings Industry Council was set up by companies and individuals concerned that changes were being made in the Private Rented Sector that didn’t always understand or consider the full impact on those operating legally and safely let properties in the sector.

Chaired by Theresa Wallace of Savills, the TLIC comprises representatives from industry bodies including ARLA Propertymark, agents, redress schemes, tenant groups and government departments and has helped significantly in the industry pursuing regulation of the sector. As a result of recent collaborative efforts of the council, they will be producing a report for release very shortly on the state of the market.

David also attended Nationwide’s Private Rented Sector Partnership Board’s inaugural meeting; a new across-industry body looking at policy solutions to improve the PRS and work in closer collaboration in areas of mutual interest.

Keeping both feet firmly on the ground

Of course, at Propertymark, members are at the heart of everything we do, and in line with this David engages with lettings professionals and landlords whenever he can. He’s presented on key industry topics at ARLA Propertymark Regional Meetings in Belfast and Yorkshire, and the West Midlands Landlord Conference, and those attending our Regional Conferences in Cardiff and Durham will most likely have seen him or spoken with him. 

Videos and webinars

As well as delivering a Rightmove Webinar on letting agent fees, David has supported a number of members including James Davis, CEO and founder of Upad by contributing to films on a range of topics such as fees, CMP, tenancy agreements, and reasons to use an ARLA member, alongside several other members. Keep an eye out for these as they'll be added the website soon. 

In the Media

Getting the media to take notice of our brand and the work we do is crucial. David has responded to numerous requests from journalists for interviews and expert commentary, including Mira Bar-Hillel of The Evening Standard. He has also worked with our press agency to achieve coverage for Propertymark in regional and national newspapers and appeared on several radio interviews.

Written responses and providing evidence

As well as all of our ongoing work on the Lettings Fees Bill, industry regulation and CMP, we’ve:

  • Formulated official responses to Government for the letting fees consultation.
  • Provided evidence for the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration  on evaluating the impact of Right to Rent.
  • Outlined the needs of the sector to the Chancellor with ARLA Propertymark budget response ahead of 22 November. 
  • Talked to members in preparation for responding to ‘Protecting consumers in the letting and managing agent market: call for evidence'.
  • Reviewed guidelines for the First-tier Tribunal which comes on force on 1 December in Scotland as well as all the new document made available by Scottish Government for the model tenancy agreement, and associated guidance.
  • Reviewed guidance for landlord and tenants on how the new tenancy regimes will work in Scotland.
  • Feeding into Grenfell Tower inquiry, having attended a number of meetings and working groups.
  • In London, we are working with the Greater London Authority on the Mayor’s Housing Strategy and how it impacts the Private Rented Sector.
  • Responded to the Welsh Government's consultation on fees charged to tenants in the PRS. 

Practical help for members

Fact sheets are an exclusive member benefit. They help you understand the laws that govern lettings agents, promote best practice and ensure you know how to keep your tenants and landlords safe. Recent additions to our arsenal include Universal Credit, Selective Licensing, Energy Efficiency, Draft Tenant Fees Bill and guidance for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

We’ve also recently released the Propertymark Tenancy Builder in conjunction with Letflo - a free tool offering you a comprehensive customisable platform for creating Tenancy Agreements on Propertymark’s AST standard template.

More practical help - coming soon!

We are now working on a repairs reporting system which will be linked directly to the ARLA Propertymark website, where tenants will be able to report repairs to their agent via the ARLA Propertymark website and Find an Expert tool. Additional functionality may also be added, subject to necessary testing.

We are also working on a licensing map for England with partner Get Rentr to tell members, landlords, and tenants what selective and additional licensing schemes exist in their vicinity, together with criteria for agents and their landlords.  

Scottish members should keep an eye out on the website for Model Tenancy Agreements and additional guidance for forthcoming changes.

Many of you have been making good use of our Tenant Fees Bill Campaign Toolkit. In a similar vein, we’ll be introducing a GDPR Toolkit soon to help you get to grips with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation changes and understand your responsibilities!

We will of course also continue to look at new ways of helping you with the key topics of the time.