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Letting Agents Voice Concerns Over Renters (Reform) Bill, Labeling It ‘Unfair’

The sentiment among letting agents regarding the Renters (Reform) Bill is predominantly one of discontent, as reported by Propertymark’s Head of Policy, Tim Douglas. The bill, which is currently awaiting its Third Reading in Parliament, has been met with significant apprehension from members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), with a striking 73% viewing the bill as unfair. Moreover, 60% of the agents fear that abolishing fixed-term tenancies could adversely affect tenants.

The recent study conducted by Propertymark on the reform of the Private Rented Sector (PRS) uncovered that a strong majority, 70%, believe student lets should not be subjected to the proposed removal of fixed-term tenancies. Opinions are split on the efficacy of the PRS Database, with only 54% of agents anticipating an improvement in PRS standards from this initiative, while 24% disagreed.

There is a consensus, however, on certain grounds for possession, with 90% of agents concurring that breach of contract, repeated late rent payments, and securing a let based on false information should be mandatory grounds for possession.

Propertymark’s members are advocating for the expansion of the PRS Database and Property Portal to encompass qualifications, registration, and regulation requirements for property agents. Among their key suggestions, they assert that tenants should retain the option to enter into a fixed-term tenancy if it serves both parties’ interests, and private landlords should have the option to enroll in existing redress schemes, such as the Property Redress Scheme or The Property Ombudsman.

The association’s members also call for the introduction of a statutory code of practice within the Renters (Reform) Bill to provide a clear framework for adjudication and to outline a long-term strategy for the establishment of a specialist housing court. Furthermore, they propose that if the portal becomes operational, the necessity for local licensing schemes should be eliminated. To expedite the process of returning deposits, the inclusion of inventories and check-in/check-out reports at the start and conclusion of tenancies is also recommended.

Tim Douglas of Propertymark emphasised the collective stance of the letting agents, stating, “The clear view from Propertymark letting agent members highlights the importance of the need for policymakers to retain the option of fixed-term tenancy where it is mutually beneficial to both parties; ensure new requirements for landlord redress complement the existing provisions that agents must adhere to, and the legislation is not a missed opportunity to regulate property agents and ensure landlords have confidence through new and strengthened grounds for possession.”