United Kingdom

Agents point the way for rental reform in PayProp Special Report

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The front cover of PayProp's Special Report on rental reform

PayProp’s new Special Report, released this month, reveals letting agents’ dissatisfaction with many provisions of the Renters (Reform) Bill, while also finding some silver linings – and explains what the industry can do to have their voices heard at this late stage.

PayProp polled hundreds of letting agents, agency owners and partners and lettings administrators in England to get their views on the Bill as a whole and its individual provisions.

As can be expected for such a wide-ranging piece of legislation, over 73% of respondents expect the Bill to have a significant impact on their business. Some 62% said they viewed the changes negatively – and just 4% believe it is a good thing. An overwhelming 94% expected it to reduce the availability of rental properties.

Breaking down the responses

The Renters (Reform) Bill contains a range of provisions, from ending Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to setting up a new Privately Rented Property Portal for landlords, and PayProp’s Special Report lifts the lid on which ones property professionals oppose and which they welcome.

Respondents believe that the scrapping of Section 21 is the most impactful provision of the Bill, and it’s also the one they are most likely to view negatively: 79% of them said it is a bad thing. On the flip-side, 70% were positive about new grounds for Section 8 evictions.

Property professionals also welcomed the idea of a new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman for landlords, with 53% seeing it as a positive. However, it was also seen as the least impactful of the Bill’s seven key provisions.

Room for improvement

Respondents also had serious misgivings about how the Bill would play out. While more comprehensive grounds for Section 8 evictions were welcomed, almost 80% of agents said that such evictions take too long to secure – an issue that could get worse as more evictions would have to go through the courts. A very significant 58% of respondents also felt that the Renters (Reform) Bill wouldn’t be enforced effectively, putting law-abiding landlords and agents on an uneven playing field.

But they also had suggestions for how processes could be improved should the Bill become law, and are keen to help their landlords navigate the new regulations. Some 82% of respondents believed that landlords who work with agents should be allowed to use their agency’s redress scheme instead of going through the new ombudsman, while 85% said agents should be able to carry out compliance tasks on the new Privately Rented Property Portal on their landlords’ behalf. A majority would also like to be able to use verified data from authorised PropTech platforms as evidence during eviction cases, helping them secure possession fairly and effectively for landlords.

There is still time for the government to make changes. The Renters (Reform) Bill is due a second reading, which now cannot happen until after the party conference season in October. PayProp has already shared findings from the Special Report with ministers, MPs and civil servants, and agents can do the same. If politicians listen to the experts who work in the private rented sector, they could still produce a Bill that agents can support.

To read the full Special Report, visit the PayProp website.

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