The Government has outlined a package of measures aimed at raising standards in the Private Rented Sector. The package includes:

  • A new housing hotline offering free help and advice for private tenants.

  • A ‘Trip Adviser’ style website which would allow tenants to post views on their accommodation and their landlord.

  • A requirement for all tenancies to have a written tenancy agreement extending the protection afforded by an AST e.g. the requirement to protect a tenant’s deposit.

  • Boosting the number of tenants protected under the most commonly used tenancy agreement by increasing the annual rental limit for an AST from £25,000 to £100,000.

  • A National Register for Landlords to help tenants make basic checks on their prospective landlords and to see how well they maintain their properties and how quickly they fix any faults with them.

  • Better regulation of letting and managing agents.

  • The Government is also extending tenancy rights to people living in shared homes on short-term lets to give extra protection to around 150,000 people, including students and seasonal workers.

These measures, outlined in The Private Rented Sector: Professionalism and Quality follow on from the Rugg Review published in 2008. They aim to ensure that tenants have the information and help they need to make informed decisions about the homes they rent, legal protection and certainty about their rights and extra support to help them deal with any disputes.

Housing Minister John Healey said: “Over three million families live in private rented housing and while the majority of tenants say they’re happy with their homes and landlords many do face problems with their landlord and should have better help and protection on hand.

”Every tenant should be confident in their decision to rent as well as be clear what to expect before they sign on the dotted line”.

The Minister also pledged to explore more ways of lending practical support to organisations which represent the interests of private sector tenants in the same way as for public housing. “Creating Local Letting Agencies, where councils and good landlords work together to help local people find better-quality homes in the private rented sector will help to side-line the cowboys across the country.”

The government has reiterated its commitment to full regulation of letting and managing agents in a bid to boost the professionalism of the private rented sector.

Healy adds: “The government wants to see a private rented sector which offers high-quality accommodation, and in which tenants can make choices based on clear information about their options, their rights, and their responsibilities.

“We also want to ensure tenants know where to turn if things go wrong. At the same time, government wants to increase professionalism in the private rented sector – supporting good landlords and agents, whilst driving out the worst practices of the sector that fail tenants and damage its reputation.”