White Paper – A Radical Rental Overhaul?

The government’s housing White Paper has been released with a bid to repairing the ‘broken housing market’ of the UK, in part by focusing on the buy to let sector.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, made a statement to parliament outlining the White Paper, which for many was somewhat anticlimactic. A radical overhaul of the private rental sector had been expected, yet Javid’s statement mentioned the buy to let sector just once.

The first measure introduced was the aim to encourage more institutional investors to partake in Build to Rent in order to raise numbers of purpose built rental properties in the UK.

The move to ban letting agent fees was reiterated, with the Paper saying: ‘We will consult early this year, ahead of bringing forward legislation as soon as Parliamentary time allows, to ban letting agent fees to tenants. This will improve competition in the market and give renters greater clarity and control over what they pay.’

The White Paper described the expansion of the private rental sector, which has doubled over the past 10 years to reach 4.3 million. It hopes to keep check of its standards through a selection of measures. It pledged to ‘drive up safety and standards in the sector by improving existing commitments to ban rogue landlords, as well as consulting on whether to make electrical safety checks compulsory.

However, the move which has gained the most attraction is the idea to introduce family friendly tenancies of three years or more. The measure was outlined as an initiative to encourage investors to consider Build to Rent rather than to improve standards for tenants, however the suggestion has been welcomed.

Head of lettings at Your Move, Valerie Bannister, commented: ‘There is nothing to prevent longer tenancies becoming the norm much sooner, in cases where this fits both the tenant’s and the landlord’s needs. We have seen tenants rent the same property for 20 years on a rolling monthly basis which has suited both the landlord and the tenant without any formality required of a three-year tenancy. In the long term, we want to bridge the gap between renters and landlords and form trusting relationships which are in step with market needs whether a short term let or a longer tenure.’

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