February 2010

Government plans more regulation of buy-to-let sector

Britain’s housing minister, John Healey, is reportedly planning to introduce new measures which will increase the government’s role in the private buy-to-let sector.  The minister noted that he wanted to offer tenants even more protection than they currently enjoy by setting up a special telephone “hotline” aimed at dealing with complaints or providing advice whenever tenants find themselves in conflict with their landlord.  Healey explained that approximately three million Britons rent flats or houses, and that even if the majority enjoy good relations with their landlord, the housing minister maintained that “many do face problems.”

The government is also looking to launch a website based on the travel portal “Trip Advisor,” which would provide tenants an opportunity to publish public reviews of their landlords and rental properties.  A nationally-maintained landlord register has also made the news, sparking questions and concerns among residential landlords and buy-to-let investors.  In addition to these changes, Healey has decided to expand the protection normally offered to tenants to those who rent rooms or units in shared homes, or who signed short term tenancy agreements.  This move will impact some 150,000 Britons who live in shared homes.

Some of these measures are raising new concerns in the buy-to-let sector.  A Trip Advisor-style review site is seen by some as especially problematic, considering that there is no information on how the site’s operators will ensure that malicious and inaccurate reviews of landlords do not make their way into the public domain, thus compromising the reputation of those with a stake in the buy-to-let sector.

Mr Healey confirmed the Government’s intention to bring in legislation to introduce the National Landlords register and a tougher regulatory regime for managing letting agents to drive out the rogue elements that can sometimes tarnish the image of the sector and those who play by the rules. 

Source RLA News Service

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