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Views given on updated strategy for the private rented sector

Friday 22 November 2019

Manchester City Council have consulted with agents, landlords and tenants to inform an updated private rented sector strategy for the city. The consultation ran throughout November 2019 seeking to engage stakeholders through an online survey and local drop in sessions across Manchester.

As we previously reported, the survey sought to capture views on what is working well, what isn’t working and what should be improved.

The city council recognise that privately rented homes have become one of the most popular types of housing in Manchester and are seeking to ensure that as the private rented sector grows, standards are maintained, and the sector retains the trust of Manchester people.

ARLA Propertymark were invited to submit a response, and to ensure the views of agents are reflected in the updated strategy, we conducted our own survey with Members in the Manchester area.

We would like to express our thanks to all those members in the region who responded to our survey. The responses we received provided strong evidence for a well-informed, representative response.

ARLA Propertymark’s full consultation response

In responding to our survey, agents reported:

  • Little appetite for flexible tenancies
  • Potential tenants must be judged on individual circumstances rather than blanket policies.
  • Dealing with an ‘endless’ list of problems that can crop up with a property, and that tenants are satisfied with how these are resolved.
  • Regularly planned programmes of improvement works and repairs to ensure well maintained tenancies in order to reduce void periods and renewals.
  • Legal action against tenants can be taken for many reasons yet cases do not always end in formal action due to prohibitive costs, an alternative resolution or a view that formal legal action is disproportionate
  • Energy efficiency and low carbon measures are a consideration in the sector, but expensive measures are uncommon.
  • Challenges of the private rented sector in Manchester reflect the national picture. Responses could be themed as concerns over reduced stock; changing legislation; increased costs faced by landlords; the role of local authorities and enforcement; decreased landlord confidence to invest; and uncertainty around legislative proposals, especially Section 21 evictions.

The consultation provided the opportunity to restate our position that government cannot legislate its way out of every eventuality, with mandatory regulation of the property industry as the effective solution.

We also advocated that licensing schemes introduced by local authorities are not an effective way of promoting higher quality accommodation, councils should instead adopt a collaborative approach with all stakeholders to tackle issues within the private rented sector.

However, even faced with these challenges there are some real positives of the private rented sector, especially in Manchester. We analysed existing data sources and found a rapidly expanding sector that is effective at meeting the demands of the labour market as a result of the flexibility it affords. The sector makes a significant economic contribution to the region which cannot be ignored. Previous research we commissioned from Capital Economics investigated the contribution to the economy of the private rented sector, not just in terms of its direct activities, but through purchases in the supply chain and employment activity.

Manchester City Council’s survey closed on the 22 November, and we look forward to learning of their findings and what their plans are for a new private rented sector strategy. We will be staying involved with their work and will keep you updated.