Article Posted -
06 Aug 2018

The private rented sector (PRS) featured heavily in the media at the start of July, with long term tenancies the main topic of discussion. The other main topics this month includes Which?’s research on letting agents, and HMO and licensing regulations.

Government consulting on three-year tenancies

On Sunday, 1 July, the Government announced a consultation on longer tenancies.  The consultation document itself wasn’t published until late Monday afternoon; however media were still keen to hear our opinion. Our CEO, Richard Lambert, was interviewed by Sky News and LBC, while our comments featured in a range of publications, including The Guardian, Evening Standard, Yahoo, The Express, The Times, Sunday Times, and most of trade publications. We pointed out that the Government had derided this idea when it was floated by their opposition in the previous two elections. We also looked at our research with tenants, which showed that over 50 percent are happy with the length of tenancy they were offered, while 20 percent were granted longer tenancies when they asked. The consultation closes on Sunday, 26 August.

Which? research on letting agents

Consumer group Which? recently undertook a mystery shopper exercise of 30 property viewings across England and Scotland with a set list of commonly asked questions to find out whether letting agents were able to provide the relevant information. Which? claimed that issues with damp and maintenance work were “brushed off” by several agents, while 50 percent couldn’t provide any information on the property’s boiler, and a third couldn’t answer questions about carbon monoxide alarms. We said that tenants should be able to expect clear, accurate answers from agents during a viewing, and that there is no excuse for agents to not be up-to-date with regulations. This story ran in The Mirror and several trade publications.

HMO and licensing regulations on the rise

FT Advisor ran a four-page article on HMO and licensing regulations in July.  It focussed on the changes to mandatory HMO licensing that are due to come into effect in October, and what landlords need to do to prepare themselves. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail ran a story about the increasing number of licensing schemes in England. According to the story one in five boroughs now operates a scheme, which can cost up to £1,000. We suggested that “more are likely to be introduced as councils look to increase their revenue under the guise of improving housing standards and cracking down on anti-social behaviour.” However, “if selective licensing schemes are used appropriately and in a targeted fashion, they can be an effective tool for councils to improve housing standards.”

Until next month…