Following Alan Ward’s appearance before the committee, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee has now published its report on the private rented sector.
Central to its recommendations are calls for changes to the way that the letting agent industry works with concerns expressed that without greater transparency and regulation, what they described as ‘cowboy’ agents will be able to exploit both landlords and tenants alike.
In publishing the report, the Committee Chair, Labour MP Clive Betts, argued that “many landlords do an excellent job” concluding that “efforts should be targeted at the rogues who let substandard accommodation, often to those in real housing need.”
Mr Betts spoke also of there being a “bewildering array of regulation that few landlords or tenants have a hope of understanding” and called for a simplification of the regulations along the same lines as the Government’s efforts to simplify the planning system
The Chair called for local authorities to be given the power to “require landlords to be part of an accreditation scheme” going on to refer to the “excellent scheme in operation in Leeds” which is run by the RLA.
The report also outlined the Committee’s scepticism of rent controls concluding that they would harm the sector and: “would serve only to reduce investment in the sector at a time when it is most needed.”
Whilst the Government’s formal response is still a way off, the Housing Minister, Mark Prisk MP has none the less welcomed “much of the evidence and ideas in the report.”
In Wales meanwhile, recent questions to the Housing Minister have seen the Conservative AM, Suzy Davies calling on the Government to give consideration to the RLA’s alternative proposals to the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill and Plaid Cymru’s housing spokesperson, Jocelyn Davies AM called for greater efforts to tackle “rogue landlords” rather than penalising all landlords by expecting them to have licences.
Pressed by the Conservative AM, Janet Finch-Saunders to introduce a new Welsh Housing survey, something the RLA has been campaigning for, the Minister responded that whilst he recognised “that being better informed leads to better decision-making” budget constraints would make it difficult to introduce such a survey now.
Meanwhile, as MPs and Peers take their buckets and spades and jet off for some sun during the summer recess, the RLA will be busy preparing for fringe events it is holding at the Labour and Conservative Party conferences in September.
At Labour’s gathering in Brighton, delegates will get the chance to hear from Alan Ward, Shadow Housing Minister, Jack Dromey MP and the Labour Vice Chair of the LGA Housing Board around how to ensure that the private rented sector is best equipped to cope with the changing demographics of tenants.
For the Conservatives, the former Cabinet Minister John Redwood MP, Alex Morton from the Policy Exchange think tank and Alan will consider how best to support growth in the sector and the contribution it could make to the economy.