Industry News Sally Walmsley 09/02/2023

Select Committee throws its weight behind NRLA plans

NRLA proposals for major court reform, a review of landlord taxes and exemptions for student landlords set to be hit by the abolition of the fixed term have been backed by the influential Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee. NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle explains more.

Since the Government first announced its rental reform plans more than two years ago, the NRLA has been vocal about what needs to change for plans to have the confidence of landlords.

Now, in what is a huge coup for the association and you, our members, a cross-party group of MPs has taken on board what we have to say, and recommended the Government make a number of radical changes to its proposals to support landlords in a new report.

These include a shake up of the court system before any changes to possession notices are made, and exemption for student landlords whose businesses could be rendered unworkable by proposals to abolish the fixed term. It also calls for a full review of landlord tax, something we have also called for in our budget submission.

To have backing from a committee with members from across the political spectrum, and chaired by a Labour MP, Clive Betts, is testament to the hours of lobbying work we have carried out promoting what we know to be sensible, workable solutions to flaws within the current Government plans.

I gave evidence to the Select Committee, making it clear that the association is not in any way ‘anti-reform’, but, having an in-depth knowledge of the sector can see the potential stumbling blocks as things stand. I was pleased to see 73 references to NRLA in the report, more than any other campaigners by a long way.

If not addressed these could have a devastating impact on the supply of homes if landlords choose to leave the market, as many have suggested they will.

In summary, the report:

  • warns courts reform is needed and calls for the development of a specialist housing court -something that has been a main pillar of NRLA campaigning
  • stresses how matters relating to rent arears or anti-social behaviour require a swift response from the courts
  • advises anti-social behaviour should be a mandatory ground for possession – without the need for a criminal conviction
  • recommends student tenancies should be exempt from plans to make every tenancy open ended, to avoid hitting supply of homes, or pushing up rents
  • calls for the reversal of the Local Housing Allowance rate freeze, to ensure benefit payments cover average rents, again, another NRLA call.

It also demands a review of recent tax changes on the buy-to-let market, explicitly stating this is with view to making the PRS ‘more financially attractive to smaller landlords’ – something the NRLA has been campaigning for and that comes as music to my ears.

Elsewhere in the report the committee also outlines concerns over the patchy nature of local authority enforcement when it comes to housing standards, and the desperate need for more homes to be built, other issues that have been flagged by the association.

Overall I am delighted the committee has taken on board so many of our suggestions and recognised the need to support PRS landlords who provide a vital role in providing safe, affordable places to rent to more than 11 million tenants.

“As the Committee rightly notes, the biggest challenge faced by those looking to the sector for a home, is that there are not enough properties available to rent. All the protections in the world will mean nothing for tenants if the homes are not there in the first place.”

What happens next?

Now the recommendations have been finalised and the report published, it will be forwarded to Ministers, who will make the final decision as to whether to adopt the proposed changes.

Keep an eye on our news site and social media channels for any updates.

To read the report in full please click here.