Industry News Rhianna Abrey 02/07/2021

Rented Housing Laws ‘Not Fit For Purpose’ Argue Landlords

LAWS underpinning the private rented sector are not fit purpose as new research reveals that some date back to the 18th century.

According to the analysis published today, by the time the forthcoming Building Safety Bill is given royal assent, the number of statutory provisions applying to the sector in England will have risen by 40 per cent over the last decade to 168 pieces of legislation. This includes the Landlord and Tenant Act 1730 and the Distress for Rent Act 1737.

The National Residential Landlords Association is warning that far from the private rented sector being under-regulated, the sheer number of laws means councils are unable to enforce them properly.

Data obtained by one of the NRLA’s predecessor organisations found that in 2017/18, 89 per cent of local authorities reported issuing no civil penalties against private landlords. Over half said they did not have a civil penalty policy in place.

With the Government pledged to develop a new White Paper on the private rented sector in the autumn, the NRLA is calling for a full assessment of the ability of councils to enforce the wide range of powers already available to them. It is warning that proposals to improve the sector for tenants and responsible landlords will be critically undermined if regulations cannot be enforced properly, which would serve only to help those providing sub-standard accommodation.

It is calling also for a full review by the Law Commission of the current laws applying to the sector to establish if they are fit for purpose, and to propose updated and potentially consolidated legislation fit for the 21st century.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said:

“The laws underpinning the private rented sector are not fit for purpose. They are failing to protect responsible landlords and tenants from the actions of those who bring the sector into disrepute.

“As Ministers consider further reforms it is urgent that we understand the ability of councils to properly enforce these as well as existing regulations. We also need to use this opportunity to ensure laws reflect the realities of a modern private rented sector.”