New measures have been introduced that will create a bigger, better private rented sector for tenants and landlords long into the future, Brandon Lewis said today (13 March 2015).
With more than 4.4 million households renting privately, the Housing Minister outlined a range of measures that will ensure tenants know their rights and where to go if they have a problem in their home.
Mr Lewis said these moves will root out the small minority of rogue operators who shirk their responsibilities and make peoples lives a misery without hampering the efforts of the vast majority of landlords who are diligent and responsible.
But these measures avoid strangling the industry in red tape which would deter much needed investment, increase rent and reduce choice for tenants.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
We’re determined to create a bigger, better private rented sector that meets the needs of tenants and landlords well into the future, and encourages investment along the way.
The measures we’ve taken give tenants the information and confidence they need to rent, allows the vast majority of landlords to provide a good service to continue doing so and are enabling developers to build specifically for private rent.
But they also mean we’re also rooting out the minority of rogue landlords who blight the lives of their tenants, providing peace of mind for people seeking a place to call home.
Creating a better private rented sector
Today the government published a new guide for tenants so they know what to look out for when renting a home.
The guide makes clear the standards people should expect – and the signs of a poorly-managed property.
This includes testing that windows and doors can lock properly, how to recognise potential health hazards like damp and mould, and to check the temperature of the property and what heating is available.
This comes on top of new measures announced this week, in which landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties.
From October, anyone renting out a property will be required to install smoke alarms on every floor, and carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms.
This is one of a range of measures the government has taken to empower tenants and create a bigger, better private rented sector including:
- publishing the How to Rent guide, informing tenants about their rights and responsibilities
- publishing a model tenancy agreement, so that tenants can request longer, family-friendly tenancies if they choose
From today councils can also benefit from revised guidance on dealing with rogue landlords in their area.
In particular, the new guidance gives advice on building up an effective case in court, demonstrating how a rogue landlord has caused misery for their tenants, to ensure the full effect of their poor practices can be revealed.
The guidance also covers new rules which require letting agents to belong to one of three approved redress schemes so people have somewhere to go if they have a complaint, and how to successfully prosecute a bad letting agent.
This is on top of the £6.7 million the government has given councils to tackle rogue landlords in their area, which includes action against those renting out so-called ‘beds in sheds’.
To date, nearly 40,000 properties have been inspected and over 3,000 landlords are now facing further action or prosecution for breaking the law.
New laws currently before parliament will also end so-called ‘retaliatory evictions’, giving tenants greater security, and will require letting agents to publish full details of the fees they charge tenants so people can know what to expect to pay.
Creating a bigger private rented sector
These measures are designed to give confidence to landlords and tenants, without adding excessive bureaucracy.
It means as much as £10 billion investment could be made in building homes for rent in the coming years.
Already, the government has introduced the Build to Rent scheme, which is investing £1 billion in delivering homes specifically for private rent.
And thanks to the government’s strong economic record, the Private Rented Sector and Affordable Housing Guarantee Schemes will help unlock investment of up to £10 billion in new homes for rent by underwriting cheaper loans for providers to invest in building new homes across the country.
See the written ministerial statement published today.
Today’s Renting a safe home: a guide for tenants forms part of the government’s commitment to take forward a review of property conditions in the private rented sector.
Legislation clarifying existing tenant deposit protection legislation in response to recent court cases is currently being taken forward through the Deregulation Bill. As a result where landlords took a deposit prior to the introduction of the tenancy deposit protection legislation on 6 April 2007 in respect of a tenancy which a) rolled over into a statutory periodic tenancy on or after that date and b) is still in existence when the Deregulation Bill receives Royal Assent (expected later this month) will have a period of 90 days from the date of Royal Assent to protect their tenant’s deposit or potentially face a fine.
The government response to the discussion paper, Review of property conditions in the private rented sector is also published today.
See updated guidance published for rogue landlords - Improving the private rented sector and tackling bad practice: a guide for local authorities.
The government has published guidance to ensure that local authorities protect the rights of park home tenants - A best practice guide for local authorities on enforcement of new site licensing regime and advice to local authorities on the new regime for applications for the grant or transfer of a site licence.