Our thoughts on the IPPR Private Rented Sector report

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have released a report on reforming the private rented sector (PRS) for both tenants and landlords. While we wholeheartedly support the report’s call for court reform, other recommendations, such as the end of Section 21 and tenant compensation from landlords wishing to sell their properties, showed a lack of understanding of the PRS. 

The report identifies long standing tenant concerns relating to affordability, security of tenure and property quality but also spared a thought for landlords and the impact of taxation on their business. The Section 24 changes to mortgage interest relief, previously referred to as the turnover tax, was specifically referenced given that its effects are only now being felt.

On affordability the report highlighted the challenges for those on low incomes, which includes, but is not limited to, the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA), the ban on tenants on housing benefit, and the upper age limit on shared accommodation. The proposal to reform Universal Credit is consistent with our position, which has highlighted the Department for Work and Pension’s roll-out inefficiencies that result in rent arrears.

It’s of course essential that landlords provide safe homes to tenants. However, existing regulations should be adequately enforced to ensure that criminal landlords are unable to operate and suggestions about increasing regulation do not address this fundamental issue. We have supported the Fitness for Human Habitation Act for this reason, as it will enable tenants to bring cases directly where there are serious hazards in their home.

The suggestion for a landlord registry was met by scepticism by one of the landlord’s interviewed, who noted that, “Well, see, to me, we’re on the landlord registration. I’d not heard nowt from them. That’s what I don’t get.” This is a sentiment that chimes with our view: that local authorities already have enough powers and the focus needs to be on enforcement.

The case for greater security of tenure is centred on abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions using Section 21 and introducing longer tenancies, while failing to acknowledge the shortcomings of Section 8 for landlords seeking repossession in cases of a breach of tenancy. The report also proposed increased freedoms for tenants in relation to keeping pets and reasonable decorations. We agree there should not be a blanket ban, but landlords should be able to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The support for a housing court was welcome and very timely given our recent response to the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government’s call for evidence. At the report launch, both Helen Hayes MP and Nationwide CEO Joe Garner agreed that a housing court had inherent benefits in enabling swift justice. However, Darren Baxter, the IPPR research fellow and report co-author, was realistic in acknowledging the need for new funding which Kevin Hollinrake MP confessed would be a tough ask.

You can download either the full report or a summary of the recommendations here.

What you can do:

The Policy Team will continue to advocate on behalf of members to defend landlords’ rights to regain possession when needed and make business decisions on their lettings. If members have any comments on the issues raised, please contact us at policy@landlords.org.uk.

Further information about membership and accreditation with the NLA can be found here.

 

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1 February 2019 - 1:30pm
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