The way England’s private rented sector is regulated and how well it protects tenants has been criticised by a new National Audit Office (NAO) report.

It says regulation is not effective, that renting is not fair for many tenants and that too much PRS housing is not safe or secure.

The NAO also highlights how a lack of joined-up thinking means a quarter of landlords are unwilling to let properties to non-UK passport holders, and half are unwilling to let to those on housing benefit.

And it takes the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to task for having overseen these ongoing problems and for not yet having a detailed plan to address them.

Last month Ministers said they would delay their promised Rent Reform White Paper to wait for this NOA report’s conclusions.

Echoing points made before by housing campaigners and previous reports, the NAO says privately-rented properties are less likely to comply with safety requirements than other types of housing and are more likely to be classified as non-decent.

Peacemeal regulation

DLUHC is criticised in the report for its piecemeal introduction of regulation – for example letting agents must be a member of a redress scheme but landlords do not – and that it ‘does not yet have a strategy for what it wants the regulation of the sector to look like as a whole’.

Ministers are also slammed for not having enough data to make decisions or measure their effectiveness and that, although they have some insight into how the sector is working such as on property conditions and tenants’ finances, they lack data on key issues where regulatory action may be required.

These include harassment, evictions, disrepair that is not being addressed, or on the costs to landlords of complying with obligations.
Finally, the report also says that tenants are too powerless or ignorant of their rights when complaining.

The NAO recommends that DLUHC defines an overall vision and strategy for the regulation of private renting including whether dispute resolutions arrangements for private renters are appropriate and accessible for all tenants, and improve its understanding of the experiences among private renters.

Concerning

gareth davies nao

Gareth Davies (pictured), the head of the NAO, says: “The proportion of private renters living in properties that are unsafe or fail the standards for a decent home is concerning.

“The government relies on these tenants being able to enforce their own rights, but they face significant barriers to doing so.”

Eddie Hooker, CEO of Hamilton Fraser, who was involved in informing the report’s findings, says: “A joined-up approach to the private rented sector is long overdue and this report from the respected National Audit Office is right in its demand for a coherent strategy to protect consumers and hold outdated views and practices to account.

“The requirement for all landlords, regardless as to whether they use a letting agent or not, to be part of a redress scheme for the benefit of their tenants is a sensible and important recommendation as is holding councils to account in the use of their existing powers to tackle the minority of landlords and agents who bring the sector into disrepute.

“But let’s not forget that there is already much regulation already on the statute books and the sharing of information between existing authorities such as trading standards, deposit and client money schemes and redress suppliers should not be overlooked which would bring immediate benefits to the consumer in rooting out poor operators. 

“Final recommendations in the forthcoming Renters Reform white paper should formalise, if not made mandatory, the sharing of intelligence. 

Piecemeal

Ben Beadle (pictured), Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “Regulation of the private rented sector needs to ensure that homes are safe and meet all required standards.

“Too often the approach to this has been piecemeal. It has led to a proliferation of initiatives such as licensing, banning orders and a rogue landlord database with little evidence to show they are working. “We support the NAO’s call for a more strategic approach.”

Hard hitting

hooker

Sean Hooker, (pictured) Head of Redress at the PRS, says: “This is a hard-hitting report that pulls no punches in its call for the need for a joined-up strategy for the sector.

“The NAO is a highly respected independent body and the evidence they have collated must be taken extremely seriously by the Government.

“It is no surprise to me, that issues like the introduction of redress for landlords feature prominently in the conclusions.

“Plugging this gap for consumers in getting their complaints resolved is vital to raising standards and making the sector safer and fit for purpose.”

11 COMMENTS

  1. What a load of bull! The PRS are getting hammered with anti LL based legislation whereas the social housing sector has been shown time and time again to provide the worse ‘standards’ for tenants. The Social Regulator only gets as far as looking at basic fundamentals of such providers and deems them non compliant. You think that right at the bottom of the tree tenants are being looked after and standards maintained when they can’t even show financial compliance at the top??? As usual bash the sector you can pick on and ignore what’s going on in your own backyard…

  2. Every time I read a story on here I think you’re just trying to wind Landlords up. I personally have complied with every regulation and have full cover from BG and others so all repairs are swift and replaced broken dishwashers etc with days. When is it time that we get the protection I have just had to go to court to get my property back after nearly a year of no rent !!!!! You blocked me from doing anything about it and expect me to do social housing for free. If you want to make things better do so for both parties and stop using a few bad apples to blame us all.

  3. I don’t recognise much of this NAO criticism and wonder about the robustness of its evidence and its investigation. I know most about the town where I live and my own properties and can confidently state that there are far more issues in social housing than private, nobody from the NAO has spoken to me nor any of my tenants and I very strongly suspect their investigation has been carried out in some of the worst city centre areas of the country with many ethnic minorities and HMOs, and that they spent disproportionate time talking to anti-landlord groups like Shelter – let’s be clear, this is a left wing anti-capitalist group which detests landlords. Disappointing to see the NRLA not challenging these findings.

  4. What an absolute joke ..landlords have to jump through fired hoops to get a tenants out of a property…..that’s after complying with ll the regulations. Landlords buy houses spend time and money getting them up to standard then have to negate to ring a good tenant who they hope will look after their investment. If at the end of the tenancy you get your property back in a ‘kind of’ liveable state your lucky that’s if you don’t have to go through the courts to get them out. So let’s get this right the government want private landlords to fill in the housing shortage, they put caps on housing benefit payments so it’s not financially viable for the landlord to rent to tenants on benefits, keep bringing in new legislation to cost the landlord even more money, give tenants (bad or good) free advice on evictions and support them through it which causes delays on evictions and costs the landlords even more money, landlords getting fined for not doing immigration checks ‘right to rent and affordability checks, reduce the amount of money earned by not allowing the mortgage interest payment to be deducted from tax, cannot charge fees for referencing, landlords having to pay higher premiums on insurance depending what type of tenant you have plus a load more of high jumps ……….then they and others who support tenants have the cheek to say that tenants are not protected!……..pity us landlords don’t have the same support given when we are dealing with horrible tenants who obviously know their rights and abuse the system. Hang your heads in shame to the people who make up these rules ..

  5. “the NAO says privately-rented properties are less likely to comply with safety requirements than other types of housing and are more likely to be classified as non-decent.”

    Well how do the NAO know about the safety or the non-decent homes in the home owners sector? They are under no obligation to tell the NAO & have no reason to tell the NAO. So I don’t think the NAO have a clue about hat goes on with other types of housing, they’re just making assumptions which I think are wrong. Like others, I’m getting sick of this.

  6. This is a biased report based on left wing agenda and Landlord bashing. PRS is the only sector which can’t claim tax relief on interest paid. These people don’t realise how much better PRS is compared to social housing. 2 sectors should assessed by independent assors against specified standards. Every tenant has the right to live in safe, heated and clean accommodation but they must be prepared to for it ,including local authorities..
    These people should realize that, higher the requirements higher the rent. Current requirements for HMO are much higher than owner occupied houses.
    Rented and owner occupied houses should have same requirements.
    If tenants don’t pay rent, law should allow tenants to be evicted after 2 months without having to go to court. 2 months will allow them to claim benefits if they become unemployed

    • Beryl forget it.
      Despite your admirable sentiments just accept that Private Housing Providers aka LL have lost the war.

      As has happened in Ireland LL have sold up principally because of a far less onerous version of S24

      There is now a rental housing crisis in Ireland.

      LL have exited and are refusing to return.

      UK LL need to do the same thing.

      Fewer far more resilient letting properties is the way to go.

      Deleverage to zero with perhaps just one letting property remaining.

      S24 LL should all sell up or become mortgage free.

      LL have lost the PRS war.

      As such LL should reduce their exposure to the increasing vagaries of the PRS.

      Just the mere concept of Govt preventing eviction of feckless rent defaulting tenants is sufficient to render the business model unviable.

      WHY should LL subsidise the feckless lifestyles of tenants!?

      What if a LL DOESN’T have the resources to subsidise feckless rent defaulting tenants!?

      Why should it not be expected for tenants to have insurance or savings to cover for sudden loss of employment.
      Currently Govt expects the LL to effectively provide this cover for FREE…………..WHY!!!!???

      HOW is that a viable business model!?

      LL have had enough and are getting out of the game.
      I’m one of them.

      I am being hounded by demand yet I’m trying to sell up.

      Ask yourself why am I selling up extremely profitable properties
      Because of all the above and more.

      I’m not the only one.

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