Improving poor housing conditions in the private rented sector
We are calling for a national mandatory registration scheme for landlords and letting agents operating in the private rented sector (PRS), whereby all rented properties would be listed in the register. We believe this would be a significant step towards improving housing conditions across the country and bringing England in line with the other nations in the United Kingdom.
In 2019, we published a parliamentary briefing to urge the Government to bring in a national landlord register. We have also been working with the Renters Reform Coalition, which is made up of over 20 organisations, to call for a register with one voice.
Why is it so important?
Poor quality housing is responsible for a high proportion of the deaths, injuries and chronic illnesses that impact life expectancy in the UK. The private rented sector has higher proportions of substandard housing, yet local authorities have limited knowledge of landlords and the properties in their local areas. There is no statutory requirement for landlords to declare their interests, and rogue landlords exploit this to the detriment of their tenants.
Registration and licensing schemes operate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, whereby all landlords have to register in order to rent out their property. Properties rented out in England are not currently registered or licensed and landlords do not need to declare that they own or manage property, unless they have a house in multiple occupation with 5 or more occupants or there is an additional or selective licensing scheme in place in their local area. Therefore, the vast majority of rented properties in England are not known to local authorities or any other agencies.
What progress has been made?
In this year’s Queen’s Speech, the Government has committed to introducing a Renters Reform Bill at some point in the next parliamentary session. This Bill is expected to include a ban on section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions as well as a new property portal, which landlords will need to register with. This portal should provide key information about where the rented properties are and assist prospective tenants as well as regulators by providing better information about the private rented sector.
We will be working closely with our members to ensure that the property portal gets included in legislation and also so that the new portal is well designed to support regulators and strengthen the work to improve housing standards in the private rented sector.