Rental White Paper Pause Offers Golden Opportunity for Reform

PayProp, a rental payment specialist, has submitted a comprehensive response to the UK Government’s Renters’ Reform White Paper. The firm’s UK Managing Director, Neil Cobbold, is urging housing sector participants to make their voices heard in the ongoing consultation process.

In particular, PayProp is calling for greater clarity on the role of the proposed Ombudsman in resolving disputes between tenants and landlords, especially in cases involving rent arrears and antisocial behaviour prior to eviction. Cobbold is recommending that the Government streamline the Section 8 eviction process to avoid uncertainty for both landlords and tenants. He also suggests that third-party evidence from PropTech providers, banks, and other sources should be allowed in court proceedings, as long as it meets a set of standards verifying rent demands and payment history.

According to Cobbold, this evidence would allow First-tier Tribunals to handle all rent arrears eviction cases by establishing if a tenant has breached the terms of their tenancy agreement. In addition, PayProp argues that a standard template for proposed rent increases is necessary, which outlines tenants’ rights and the means to challenge any unfair increase.

To achieve this goal, the company recommends that the Government define what constitutes a ‘fair increase’ based on inflation, rental prices on the open market, and property conditions. Furthermore, PayProp suggests that Housing Tribunals be allowed to set higher rent increases in line with market conditions at the time of the case, rather than merely reducing the proposed increase.

Cobbold highlights the important role that letting agents play in managing properties for landlords and believes that the White Paper has not adequately recognised this. As many of the proposed changes require landlords to demonstrate compliance, he suggests that letting agents who manage properties could help to alleviate that burden.

Additionally, he proposes that the Government allows managing agents to access the proposed Property Portal on behalf of landlords, and that agents using PropTech can easily automate information and evidence uploads, thereby reducing the burden of compliance.

Cobbold acknowledges the need for reform in the private rental sector and encourages stakeholders to work together to ensure that the proposals deliver balanced reform that benefits tenants, landlords, and letting agents. With the ongoing cost of living crisis, the housing sector remains a vital aspect of the economy and people’s lives, and therefore should remain a priority.

Finally, he urges everyone with a stake in the future of the housing sector to share their views with the Government to ensure an efficient and accessible private rental sector that provides high-quality housing for all.

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