As the General Election approaches, safeagent has set out its own manifesto for the Private Rented Sector (PRS)
Calling on the next Government to develop a clear and positive agenda for the PRS, safeagent has a number of key asks, which are vital to help improve the sector for all – tenants, landlords and agents:
- Empty Homes – Bringing back into use in the PRS
Urgent action should be taken to bring the 205,000 empty homes in England back into use, using incentives as well as just enforcement measures, to bring more of these properties into the PRS.
- Fair access for tenants on benefits – Better alignment of Local Housing Allowance
Government should invest in re-aligning Local Housing Allowance (LHA) with the lower end of market rents, bringing an end to the current LHA cap. This would help to ensure that tenants on benefits do not face unfair disadvantage when trying to access the private rented sector.
- Reforming Local Authority Licensing Schemes
Rather than scrapping licensing altogether, safeagent believes government should promote a simple, streamlined licensing process which would be more cost effective for the public purse, easier for councils to enforce and clearer for landlords and agents to understand. Licensing should be targeted at specific problem neighbourhoods and substandard properties, as well as at rogue landlords and agents.
- Increased funding for meaningful enforcement
As part of better regulation, Local Authorities should receive specific funding to enable them to exercise the powers they already have. They should be supported to use data already available to them, including council tax, benefits, tenancy deposit and electoral roll information, and take a fair, accountable and robust approach to compliance.
- Regulation of Agents
safeagent supports statutory regulation of lettings and management agents. This must include professionalising agents through the introduction of minimum qualifications. We also suggest existing “co-regulation” approaches taken in some Local Authority areas could be built upon. The aim should be to focus efforts on the minority of non-compliant agents and landlords that bring the sector into disrepute. This will help to raise standards across the sector as a whole.
Isobel Thomson, safeagent CEO, said: “With 20% of all households now living in the Private Rented Sector, the importance of this sector cannot be underestimated. We want to see standards raised across the board, professionalising the sector through minimum qualifications for agents, and supporting the good landlords to provide much needed homes.
“If we want to ensure a safer, fairer PRS for all, the new Government must make regulation and properly funded enforcement a priority to root out the small number of rogue landlords and agents.”