Javid announces PRS shake-up

There were a number of surprises in store for landlords and letting agents in Sajid Javid’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday.
Plans for a new housing court were announced – a proposal put forward by the RLA ahead of the General Election.
It was also announced there would be incentives for long term tenancies – another RLA ask detailed in our budget submission, which we welcome along with plans to regulate letting agents.
Javid also alluded to other changes – with the Communities Secretary saying landlords shouldn’t be able to remove tenants without giving at least three months’ notice, provided they have done nothing wrong.
The RLA supports moves to give good tenants the security they need, but section 21 powers allowing landlords to regain possession of their homes have seen a lot of change recently – and we are keen to see more details of what exactly is being proposed.
Javid also announced that all landlords must be covered by a redress scheme – although, again there were no details about the requirements and operation of the system.
We are eager to know about the scope of this proposal, likely cost and how it will work alongside complaints via the council and HHSRS, the new housing court plans and tenancy deposit redress – there must be clarity for landlords, tenants and agents, not more confusion.
Further details are expected to be revealed in the budget on November 22nd.
Speaking to RLA vice-chair Douglas Haig after his speech, Javid confirmed that while it focused on the court plan offering reassurance for tenants, the proposed housing court will also allow landlords to get possession more quickly.
He also encouraged the association to present its own ideas with regards to the redress scheme, which isn’t yet formalised.
Below is the section of Javid’s speech referring to the private rented sector and landlords.
He said: “The barriers stopping young people from owning their own home will not be fixed overnight.
“In the last 20 years the private rented sector has more than doubled in size. And young people are three times as likely to be renting.
“Many landlords offer a good, secure, home to their tenants. But, frankly, some do not.
“Unreasonable rent rises. Repairs left undone. And the threat of eviction if you try to complain.
“These are just some of the problems that renters can face. Leaving them feeling ripped off. And insecure.
“This is just not fair.
“Whether you rent, or you own, your home is your home, and you deserve better than that.
“We’ve already been making changes. Incentivising more secure tenancies. Tackling rogue landlords. And investing in new homes for Affordable Rent. All hugely important steps.
“But the recent growth of the Private Rented Sector means we need to go further, and faster.
“We have been looking at letting agents’ fees.
“I can announce that we will soon be publishing the legislation that will ban these unfair and unjustified costs for good.
“Today I can also set out new measures to strengthen tenants’ rights.
“We will take steps to protect renters against poor practice.
“First, we will require all letting agents to be regulated, so they meet strict minimum standards.
“Second, we will make it compulsory for all landlords to be covered by a redress scheme, with an Ombudsman, so that tenants have quick and easy resolution to disputes.
“And third, we will consult with the judiciary on a new, specialist, Housing Court, so that we can get faster, more effective, justice.
“This will mean that every tenant has the security of knowing that if they’re mistreated, or reasonable standards aren’t met, they’ll have somewhere to go.
“Somewhere with the power to put it right.
“Also, we will be taking further steps to give tenants more security of tenure in their homes.
“All landlords should be offering tenancies of at least 12 months for those who want them.
“And they shouldn’t be able to remove tenants when they have done nothing wrong without giving at least three months’ notice.
“That’s why, at the Autumn Budget, we will bring forward new incentives for landlords who are doing the right thing.
“Because renters, just like homeowners, should be able to feel secure in their own home.”