Parliamentary Committee launches inquiry into UK private rented sector

A British Parliamentary Committee has launched an inquiry into the role of local authorities in dealing with rogue landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS).

The Communities and Local Government Committee decided to look at whether councils have enough clout to deal with bad practices in the PRS as more and more people are now renting homes.

The inquiry will also examine barriers to intervention in the PRS, whether landlord licensing schemes are promoting higher quality accommodation and the effectiveness of complaint mechanism for tenants.

‘With a big rise in the number of people renting over the last decade, there are real concerns about the ability of local authorities to protect tenants by tackling bad landlords and practices,’ said the committee chairman, MP Clive Betts.

‘Our inquiry will examine how local authorities can carry out enforcement work to deal with rogue landlords as well as looking at approaches used by councils to provide private rented accommodation in their areas,’ he added.

The PRS has grown from one in 10 households in 2004 to one in five households in 2016 with the under 40s making up 70% of households. The closing date for submissions to the inquiry is Friday 24 November 2017 at midday.

The inquiry follows on from a committee report published in 2013 which highlighted five key areas in which the Government should take action including reviewing and simplifying the legislation covering the sector, giving local authorities the tools they need to enforce the law and raise standards, better regulation of letting agents, a cultural shift towards longer tenancies and a renewed effort to boost housing supply.

Local authorities are set to be granted new powers to seek banning orders against rogue landlords and agents and other changes being introduced by the Government include a ban on letting fees.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) welcomed the inquiry as a great opportunity to review enforcement in the PRS. ‘With what appears to be a coherent strategy on the regulation of the PRS coming from the Government, it is an ideal time to review what has worked and what hasn’t,’ said chief executive David Cox.

In particular the inquiry will look at whether local authorities have the powers and capacity required to enforce standards and deal with rogue landlords and seek to find out what the main obstacles are to effective intervention in the PRS.

It will also look at how effective landlord licensing schemes are in promoting higher quality accommodation, what approaches local authorities have taken to promote affordable private rented sector accommodation in their areas and the effectiveness of complaint mechanisms for tenants.