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Study Reveals Enhanced Tenant Protections Unlikely to Deter Landlord Engagement in Rental Market

Recent research from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think tank has revealed that enhanced protections for renters, including the prohibition of ‘no fault’ evictions, are unlikely to deter landlords from the rental market. This finding comes in the wake of adjustments to the Renters (Reform) Bill by the government, sparking a debate over the balance between tenant security and rental supply.

International Comparisons Highlight England’s Tenant Insecurity
The SMF’s study presents a comparative analysis of rental security measures across different countries, pointing out that England lags in terms of tenant protections. Unlike England, many comparable nations offer longer tenancies and have moved away from ‘no fault’ eviction practices. The research supports the original provisions of the Renters (Reform) Bill, aimed at abolishing such evictions, as a step towards aligning with international standards.

Evidence From Abroad Challenges Domestic Concerns
Contrary to fears that stricter regulations might push landlords out of the market, the SMF’s analysis provides reassuring evidence from Scotland and Australia. Scotland’s experience since banning ‘no fault’ evictions in 2017 shows an increase, rather than a decrease, in rental sector households. Similarly, regulatory enhancements in Australia haven’t negatively impacted the overall supply of rental properties. These examples suggest that the envisioned reforms may not adversely affect England’s rental supply as some critics fear.

Towards a More Equitable Rental Market
The report also delves into the contentious issue of rent controls, acknowledging the complex outcomes of such policies in different jurisdictions. While cities like Berlin and San Francisco have faced challenges, Ireland’s approach to regulating rent increases within certain zones shows no significant detrimental effects on supply, indicating that the impact of rent controls can vary widely.

In addition to advocating for the abolition of ‘no fault’ evictions and the introduction of rolling tenancies, the SMF recommends enhancing the rent dispute resolution process. Drawing on practices from Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, the think tank suggests centralising dispute resolution to streamline tenant protection mechanisms further.

Niamh O’Regan, co-author of the report, emphasises the need for England to improve its rental market to ensure it serves the long-term needs of an increasing number of renters. Meanwhile, Dr Catherine Dennison of the Nuffield Foundation highlights the importance of learning from international experiences to inform future housing policies in the UK.

This comprehensive analysis underscores the potential for England to adopt more tenant-friendly policies without undermining the interests of landlords, moving towards a more balanced and equitable rental market.