Let’s be honest, the rental market in the UK is a bit of a hotch potch. It’s something that’s developed over the decades with not a great deal of thought or planning. Every successive Government has tinkered with it for their own reasons. We’ve ended up with something that doesn’t work particularly well for landlords, investors, agents nor renters.
So that set us thinking. If you were to start with a clean sheet of paper and design a new property rental market from scratch what would it be like?
We’ve put together a few thoughts. You might agree or you might disagree.
* Governments would accept the importance of the private rental sector as a way to provide housing to millions of people and be professional about it. It’s not a political football, nor a way to earn votes.
* Local authorities would accept the importance of the private rental sector as a way to provide the housing that they can’t or don’t want to provide and be professional about it. It’s not something inherently wrong to be discouraged, nor something to raise revenue to fill in the holes in their budget.
* Governments, local authorities and campaigning organisations would accept that the more costs and taxes you place on landlords the higher and less affordable rents will be.
* All landlords would accept that providing accommodation is a business. Not a sideline nor just a pension. There needs to be standards and you need to provide a good product at a good price. If you can’t then maybe do something else.
* There would be some kind of national landlord licensing where it doesn’t already exist, ie. in England. The rules and standards expected would be simple and would be the same everywhere instead of a multitude of different ones in different areas.
* Persistently bad landlords would be banned for good.
* There would be some kind of tenant passport on offer. This would include a renter’s references, renting history and deposit all built it. This would make renting a property quick, simple and cheap. Tenants could move out and in within a few days if they wanted to.
* There would be a really flexible approach to tenancy agreements. If a landlord and tenant were both happy to have a tenancy agreement for seven or eight months, rather than six or 12, they could. If a landlord and tenant both wanted to have a tenancy agreement for 10 years then, with suitable break clauses, they could.
* There would be a way of evicting persistently bad tenants quickly, easily and at low cost.
* There would be some kind of housing court or tribunal. It would be impartial and try to sort things out quickly and at low cost when there is a dispute between landlords, agents and tenants. (A bit like the one in Scotland maybe.)
* There would be a really great choice of property for everyone to rent! Budget property at affordable prices. Family property. Property for the retired. Lavish luxury property. Property you could rent for just a few weeks. Property you could rent for your whole life if you wanted.
Governments, local authorities and campaigning organisations would all accept that the better rental system you have the more good landlords will want to stay in or enter the market. The more landlords there are the more property to rent there will be. Tenants will have more choice of better property at prices they can afford.
So could this perfect rental market ever happen?
The current Government announced a Renter’s Reform Bill in the Queen’s Speech in late 2019. Coronavirus delayed things, however, and they re-announced it in May 2021. The latest news is that a White Paper for the Renter’s Reform Bill has now been delayed until sometime in 2022.
Will the Renter’s Reform Bill produce the sort of perfect letting market that landlords, tenants, agents and probably everyone in the letting market would like? The Government have announced that a few of the items in our wish list above will be contained in the new bill, but for the most part they won’t be. So it seems that the dream of a perfect rental market will stay just that .... at least for the time being.