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Consumer body Which? has issued a five point demand for rental sector reform, claiming that it is failing to serve both landlords and tenants and suffers with several issues.
The reform demands from the consumer body are as follows:
1. All landlords must be registered with local authorities, with information logged on a publicly available database which is then linked to the existing register of rogue landlords and agents established in April 2018.
2. A call for the creation of an independent regulator for lettings and management agents. This must have a mandatory and legally binding code of practice and strong penalties for rogue landlords
3. The government must also introduce reform to improve tenure security and review eviction procedures. This will reduce unnecessary delays for landlords when a repossession is necessary
4. A review of tenancy agreements used by letting agents. This will ‘establish how widespread use of unfair, inaccurate or misleading terms and conditions is – and if further action, for example an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, is required’
5. The government should provide consumers with ‘an effective and accountable alternative dispute resolution scheme’ and review the current deposit adjudication schemes
In a statement Which? described the private rental sector as ‘plagued by issues of sub-standard accommodation, insecurity and ineffective redress provisions.’
Which? says that it has tracked the experiences of more than 2,500 tenants and also carried out a survey of 898 private landlords.
Which? said: ‘The report found evidence of wide-ranging issues from substandard property conditions to anxiety about insecure tenancies and a fear of reporting problems. This was combined with a lack of knowledge from tenants and landlords about rights and responsibilities, and a failure by some letting agents to provide necessary information. Startlingly, one in five millennial renters told us that they did not receive a written tenancy agreement when they moved into a property.’
With regard to agents, Which? said that the findings ‘raise serious concerns about a lack of regulation … with reports of rogue operators pressuring house-hunters to pay holding deposits or sign contracts without the information needed to make informed decisions.’