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MPs recognise our call for more enforcement

Thursday 19 April 2018

On 19 April 2018, the influential Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, made up of MPs in Westminster, released its second report following the evidence sessions as part of its inquiry into the Private Rented Sector and Draft Tenant Fees Bill.

ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive David Cox gave evidence to the Committee explaining that the piecemeal approach taken by successive governments to regulating the industry was the wrong way to tackle problems within the sector, and that it's been a struggle for agents to keep up with all the changing laws. What is needed is more enforcement of existing laws, a simplification of the rules, and greater tenant empowerment.

The inquiry focused on the lower end of the market: the 800,000 private rented homes that have at least one Category One hazard (such as excess cold, mould or faulty wiring); the 44% of tenants who said a fear of retaliatory eviction would stop them from making a complaint to their landlord; and the 200,000 tenants who reported having been abused or harassed by a landlord.

The 54-page report from the Committee covers four areas: quality of accommodation and balance of power; legislative powers; enforcement; innovative approaches to the private rented sector.

The main conclusions and recommendations include:

• Tenants need further protections from retaliatory eviction, rent increases and harassment so they are fully empowered to pursue complaints about repairs and maintenance in their homes.

• A specialist housing court would provide a more accessible route to redress for tenants and we urge the Government to publish more detailed proposals.

• The Law Commission should undertake a review of private rented sector legislation.

• The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) should be replaced with a more straightforward set of quality standards.

• Enforcement by local authorities has been far too low and inconsistent and local authorities do not have sufficient resources to undertake their enforcement duties. A new fund should be established to support local authorities, especially those that prioritise informal approaches to enforcement.

• Councils should have power to confiscate properties from landlords committing the most egregious offences and whose business models rely on the exploitation of vulnerable tenants.

The report is now being analysed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government before they decide whether to act on the recommendations.

Read the report in full