Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today promised England's one million landlords that the Government has no plans to introduce new regulations on the private rented sector.
New regulations were proposed by the previous administration in response to the Rugg Review of the Private Rented Sector, but have been judged by the new coalition to introduce too much additional red tape. These included a National Register of Landlords, regulation of letting and managing agents, and compulsory written tenancy agreements.
Speaking at the first Communities and Local Government questions since the formation of the Coalition Government, the Minister confirmed that the legal framework already in place strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants - with the vast majority of private tenants reporting they are satisfied with the service they get from their landlords.
Instead, Mr Shapps called on councils to use the wide range of powers already at their disposal to tackle the minority of rogue landlords that fail to provide good quality accommodation and blight local neighbourhoods.
Councils already have powers to require landlords to take action to rectify hazards in their property and where landlords resist, to make and charge for improvements, and to prohibit use of the affected parts of the property.
Local authorities also have discretionary licensing powers to tackle areas blighted by poorly managed privately rented stock.
He said: "With the vast majority of England's three million private tenants happy with the service they receive, I am satisfied that the current system strikes the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.
"So today I make a promise to good landlords across the country: the Government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants.
"But for the bad landlords, I am putting councils on alert to use the range of powers already at their disposal to make sure tenants are properly protected."
Also: Plans to increase the annual rental threshold for assured and assured shorthold tenancies from the current level of £25,000 to £100,000 will go ahead. The Statutory Instrument raising the threshold, "The Assured Tenancies (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 - SI 2010 No. 908" was laid on 25 March and the change will come into effect on 1 October 2010. This will apply to all existing and new tenancies and will restore the position intended in the original legislation
However: ARLA - The Association of Residential Lettings Agents said it was "extremely disappointed" by the Government's decision, saying tenants were not being adequately protected.
Ian Potter, ARLA's operations manager, said: "We are extremely disappointed with the housing minister's decision to scrap the previous Government's plans for the regulation of letting agents.
"This move risks seriously hampering the improvement of standards in the private rented sector, the sector's reputation, and the fundamental role it plays in the wider housing market as well as failing to protect the consumer who has nowhere to go when there is service failure or fraud.
"A minimum requirement must surely be consumer redress and protection of all funds taken from the public not just tenants' deposits.
"We have long campaigned for the introduction of compulsory regulation of letting agents, along the same lines as our own member-led licensing scheme launched last year. Currently, any person or organisation can become a letting agent.
"Until that is changed via national regulation, unprofessional, unqualified and unethical operators will continue to exist, to the detriment and expense of consumers and the market as a whole.
"The only option now is for the consumer to look for an agent which has signed up to voluntary redress and has client money protection; by doing so they would at least have a degree of protection not offered by many agents operating on the high street.
"We note however that the minister has not closed the door and look forward to the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue with him in the future."
More information about ARLA can be found at: http://www.jmlproperty.co.uk/ARLA_Sponsors_young_property-woman_award_at_theNLA_May-09.htm#See
The NLA - National Landlords Association have today commented with "Well-meaning but flawed" - Register of landlords to be ditched. Details at http://www.jmlproperty.co.uk/letting_agents.htm#Well