At the 2017 Conservative Party Conference, Sajid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, announced plans to regulate the lettings industry. It is an announcement that we, along with the industry, welcome, having campaigned for many years to help improve the private rented sector.
Currently, anybody can set up a lettings agency without a licence or qualification. This has caused issues with deposits not being properly protected. In some cases lettings agencies are being set up with no security for tenants or landlords, who later disappear taking any deposits with them.
In 2015, Savills established The Lettings Industry Council (TLIC) to bring together representatives from all of the industry bodies and schemes in the sector. The purpose of the group was to help determine exactly what was necessary to improve the lettings industry for both tenants and landlords.
This announcement from the Conservative Party means that the Government is finally addressing the concerns of industry members. The key plans they have outlined for the future are:
Mandatory for every landlord to be part of an ombudsman scheme
Currently only letting agents are required to join an ombudsman scheme. This planned change in the law would give all tenants access to quick and easy dispute resolution over issues like repairs and maintenance.
Legislation requiring all lettings agents to be registered in order to practice
The law will mean that agents must register with an appropriate organisation, adhere to training requirements and comply with an industry code of conduct. All Savills lettings teams are ARLA Propertymark protected and all lettings staff must complete their ARLA Propertymark qualification within 12 months of joining.
Incentivise landlords to offer longer term tenancies
During the Autumn budget the government will announce a new set of incentives for landlords who offer tenancies of at least 12 months. We hope these tax incentives for landlords will help ease the burden of recent tax changes.
Consult with the judiciary on the case for a new housing court
The government will explore whether a new housing court could improve existing court processes, reduce dependence on legal representation and encourage arbitration, with benefits for both tenants and landlords. Ultimately, they are looking to save time and money when dealing with disputes, which are currently costly and can be very time consuming.