The coalition government has scrapped plans to introduce a national landlord register, compulsory written tenancy agreements, and additional regulation of letting and managing agents in England. Announcing the decision, Tory Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
“With the vast majority of England’s three million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.
“So today I make a promise to good landlords across the country: the Government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants.
“But for the bad landlords, I am putting councils on alert to use the range of powers already at their disposal to make sure tenants are properly protected.”
New regulations were proposed by the previous administration in response to the Rugg Review of the Private Rented Sector, but have been judged by the new coalition to introduce “too much additional red tape”.
The Association of Residential Lettings Agents said it was “extremely disappointed” with the government’s decision. Its operations manager Ian Potter said:
“This move risks seriously hampering the improvement of standards in the private rented sector, the sector’s reputation, and the fundamental role it plays in the wider housing market, as well as failing to protect the consumer who has nowhere to go when there is service failure or fraud.
“A minimum requirement must surely be consumer redress and protection of all funds taken from the public, not just tenants deposits.
“Currently, any person or organisation can become a letting agent. Until that is changed via national regulation, unprofessional, unqualified and unethical operators will continue to exist to the detriment and expense of consumers and the market as a whole.”
Consumer advocacy group Which? echoed these sentiments with chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith commenting: “For too long tenants have suffered at the hands of unscrupulous landlords and letting agents with little or no redress.”
The only change recommended by the Rugg Review that will still go ahead is the increase in the annual rental threshold for assured and assured shorthold tenancies from the current level of £25,000 to £100,000. The Statutory Instrument raising the threshold, The Assured Tenancies (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 – SI 2010 No. 908, was laid on 25 March and will come into effect on 1 October 2010 for both new and existing tenancies.
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