What did the coalition government do for the private rented sector?

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The activities of the this Parliament came to a close on Thursday in advance of the impending general election.

As a closing summary, Eric Pickles gave a written statement to Parliament on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government regarding their activities on housing and planning. To read what the Secretary of State had to say, click here to see the government statement.

Users of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme will of course be most interested to read about issues in the private rented sector, so here is his round up of activity in the PRS since 2010;

"Creating a better and bigger private rented sector
The government is delivering on its commitment to kick-start a new market for institutional investment in the private rented sector. The government’s Private Rented Sector Taskforce has been instrumental in building the market and has helped to generate aspirations to invest over £10 billion of domestic and foreign investment in the UK private rented sector.

Harnessing this momentum, the £1 billion Build to Rent Fund is providing development phase finance to large-scale private rented sector developments. The Fund is supporting new high-quality developments purpose built for private rent and is on track to create up to 10,000 new homes. There has been immense appetite for the Fund and we are making steady progress with 14 deals in contract worth £230 million and delivering over 3,000 homes for private rent. We estimate that the Fund will this year be committed in full.

In order to encourage and support long-term investment in new private rented sector developments, like those created via the Build to Rent Fund, the government is implementing a Private Rented Sector Housing Debt Guarantee Scheme. The government has now awarded the licence for the Private Rented Sector Housing Guarantee Scheme to PRS Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of Venn Partners LLP. The guarantee uses the UK government’s hard-earned fiscal credibility facilitate a stream of investment in new build private rented sector homes across the UK. The guarantee will be available for up to £3.5 billion of debt (plus a potential share of an additional £3 billion held in reserve). We expect the scheme to approve its first borrowers in Spring 2015.

We want to drive up standards in the sector and improve the level of professionalism amongst landlords. We have:

  • published “How to Rent”, an accessible guide with clear advice for tenants on their rights and responsibilities with advice on what to do if something goes wrong
  • issued a Model Tenancy Agreement which sets out a fair balance between the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord and which can be used for longer tenancy arrangements, helping to reduce voids and letting agency fees
  • rejected calls for rent controls, which would destroy investment in new and existing rented properties, reduce supply and ultimately force up rents
  • introduced a new code of practice in September 2014 to improve the sector’s professionalism, so all landlords and agents understand what they should deliver
  • required all letting agents and property managers to belong to one of the three government-approved redress scheme. This will offer a clear and simple route for landlords and tenants to pursue complaints about their agent and where complaints are upheld they could receive compensation
  • ensured full transparency on letting agents’ fees. Transparency will encourage competition on fee levels and enable choice on service provided not just cost. We have considered but ruled out a ban on fees.
  • reformed selective licencing schemes, giving councils more discretion to target action against by rogue landlords. At the same time, the new measures put tighter checks and balances on the introduction of blanket licensing, which increases costs on responsible landlords and drives up tenants’ rents
  • protected tenants against retaliatory eviction where they have a legitimate complaint and made the eviction process more straightforward in appropriate circumstances
  • requiring landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy. Landlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed

We believe the action we have taken strikes the right balance to ensure high standards, whilst avoiding excessive red tape which would reduce supply and force up rents."

 

 

 


Posted by Chris Kendall on 27 March 2015

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