Reforming the private rented sector in England|TDS shares its views
In February 2023, the House of Commons Select Committee published a report on the Government’s plans for reforming the sector. As we await publication of the Renters Reform Bill, TDS outlines its views on some of the key issues.
Reforming court processes
TDS agrees with the Select Committee that improving the courts’ ability to process possession claims quickly and effectively in a way that is fair to both landlords and tenants is key to the reform’s success. We also support further digitisation of the Court process, building on our own work of digitising tenancy deposit disputes.
We agree with the Select Committee that formal enforcement among local authorities will need to significantly improve if the proposals are to raise standards in the sector. The Government must make sure that enforcement is properly resourced, and not simply pass the burden to local authorities. TDS would welcome wider dissemination about “what works best” in terms of enforcement across the UK.
Education and awareness
In the report, the Select Committee states that “the most repeated overarching observation on the White Paper proposals” is that an effective communication and education campaign is needed to ensure landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities. We believe that the Select Committee has awarded insufficient attention to this issue and feel that there needs to be wider sharing of information to tenants and landlords.
There is currently a lack of knowledge about the private rented sector at a local level. This is key if local authorities are to develop effective enforcement strategies. We therefore agree with the Government’s proposal to introduce a new property portal which will hold information on all rented properties. TDS would like to see further details on how non-compliance with the portal will be enforced, how it will be financed and kept up to date, and what local authority views are (e.g., what issues are they concerned about and how they would use it).
We agree with the Select Committee that the existing dispute resolution landscape for the private rented sector is complex and confusing. It would be helpful for the Government to clarify how simplicity and a streamlined service can be achieved. We would welcome further clarification on several key issues associated with the Government’s proposal to introduce a new Ombudsman that all landlords must sign up. For example, how will tenants be encouraged to access the Ombudsman and what types of disputes will it be able to handle?
To hear more of our thoughts on these issues, please see the document below!