MPs to look in to buy to let regulation

New housing minister Mark Prisk has decided to override the policy of his predecessor to order MPs to conduct an inquiry in to buy to let housing.

Outgoing minister Grant Shapps had always responded to calls for landlord and letting agent regulation by responding private rented housing was self-policed and governed by effective consumer credit laws.

Indeed, only last week, Baroness Hanham, a minister in the Communities and Local Government Department answered a written parliamentary question reiterating the policy.

However, the department has relented and given notice that a select committee of MPs will be set up to examine the private rented sector.

The committee has issued a statement inviting submissions covering a number of topics of importance to landlords, including:

  • Quality of private rented housing and steps to ensure all housing in the sector is of an acceptable standard;
  • Rents – including the possibility of rent control and the interaction between housing benefit and rents;
  • Landlord regulation and steps that can be taken to deal with rogue landlords
  • Letting agent regulation, including action to control fees and charges;
  • Regulation of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), including discretionary licensing schemes imposed by councils for some HMOs
  • Tenancy agreements – including length and security of tenure
  • How councils discharge their duty to the homeless by placing homeless households in private sector housing.

In a recent report on the financing housing, the committee considered the supply of housing across all tenures, so does will not focus on rented property supply in this inquiry.

Jane Ingram, president of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), said: “We welcome the inquiry.

“ARLA has long campaigned for statutory regulation of letting agents, and with more people living in the private rented sector than ever before it is time for the government to finally take action.

“Currently anyone can set up as a letting agent without any qualifications or knowledge about their legal requirement. This is simply not good enough, and means that consumers can be taken for a ride by rogue agents.

“We look forward to inputting into the inquiry and making the case for greater regulation of the sector.”

Give the committee your opinion on regulating landlords and letting agents [Opens in new window]

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