Think strategically over PRS, government urged
The Residential Landlords' Association (RLA) has used a meeting with a government minister to press the case for a more strategic approach to the private rental sector (PRS).
Heather Wheeler MP, the new minister for the private rented sector, met last week with RLA officials, led by the organisation's policy director David Smith.
Mr Smith said a strategic approach will be needed because there is a need for joined-up thinking across Whitehall, particularly at a time when many government departments will be undergoing change.
Discussing the meeting, Mr Smith commented: “The RLA welcomes the minister’s early engagement with the sector and her positive attitude towards supporting the majority of landlords who provide good housing and abide by all their responsibilities.
“It provides a good starting point as the RLA works with the government, to ensure the rental sector is fit for its changing role and works for tenants and landlords.”
A clear-cut strategy was not the only thing the RLA has been seeking. The meeting saw the minister pressed for the introduction of a dedicated housing court, which would enable landlords to seek redress more quickly and at lower cost if problems arise than is currently the case.
In the RLA's view, many landlords or potential landlords are deterred from renting homes to some people for fear they would find it hard to evict them in the event of problems such as rent arrears or antisocial behaviour.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the government will be meeting again with representatives of the rental sector and seeking their input. There was also the promise of "support" for good landlords and letting agents at the same time as tougher sanctions against poor ones through the introduction of banning orders in April.
The notion of an integrated strategy for the PRS may fit well with the government's wider efforts to co-ordinate the delivery of more new housing across all branches of government.
Last week, prime minister Theresa May chaired the first meeting of the new Housing Implementation Taskforce, which was attended by ministers from several government departments.