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Let’s learn from the pandemic as we weather cost of living storm

11th April 2022

As we look beyond the pandemic, we should take time to reflect on what we did well as a sector to deal with the challenges of Covid-19. There’s lots to learn from as we face the cost of living crisis and a raft of new reforms for the private rented sector.

At safeagent, we see collaboration between landlords, tenants and agents as the driver of positive change. This was brought into sharp focus by the economic hardship caused by Covid-19.

Landlords and agents worked together to create stability for tenants, prioritising safe and stable homes above all else. I’m proud of how our organisation stepped up to the challenge too.

We came up with a plan for ensuring a sustainable sector by providing support to tenants and landlords, which we detailed in this policy paper.

Letting agents are ‘people businesses’, so it’s no surprise their success is often measured by their human qualities. This has never been truer than during the pandemic. Our agents were exceptional – acting flexibly, fairly and with empathy.

That’s exactly the approach we need to embrace as we work with partners to harness reform efforts in a way that influences positive, meaningful change.

The cost of living crisis is already biting, but soon it will truly crunch. We need to provide perspective to government and within the sector.

Many of society’s poorest need support now, and we also need to keep focus on longer term market and structural issues, to help promote affordability. As  a recent review from the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) found, we must take a holistic view on reform.

There’s also a great deal we can do within the current system to ensure it works at its best for everyone. With the government looking to further embed the role of local authorities in regulating the rental market, it’s vital they have the resources needed to enforce these regulations.

The third edition of our Effective Enforcement Toolkit was published in November 2021. We designed this to help local authority enforcement officers to effectively stamp out the small minority of agents who operate illegally and tarnish our sector’s reputation.

Enforcing regulation properly is critical to promoting the professionalism of the industry and driving up consumer confidence.

We’re at a pivotal time for the PRS – with significant reform on the horizon and financial hardship affecting people up and down the country. We’ll need a united front to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

Isobel Thomson, chief executive

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