We recently reported on the latest report from the Local Government Committee on the private rented sector. The MP’s made various suggestions aimed at making the whole business work more smoothly with simpler and better regulation. Various commentators have now come forward with their views on the report; did it go far enough, did it go too far and will the recommendations actually end up being implemented or ignored? Landlord insurance clients who use letting agents will find much to mull over in the report and the comments from market sources.

Which? Magazine welcomed the recommendation that lettings agents should come under the same regulations as estate agents who sell property. Which? have been campaigning on this issue for some time and they say that they have uncovered “an alarming lack of consumer protection”. They also say that they have found poor practice in the lettings market on a “wide scale”.
The MP’s report covered the issue of charging and recommended regulations to ensure that agents’ charges should be clearly and prominently displayed. This is a major issue as far as Which? are concerned.

Another group with views on the issue of agents’ regulation is the National Landlords Association (NLA). They have publicly welcomed the report and describe it as “really positive”. They are very please that the committee rejected the “pat responses of rent controls, increased tenure and simplistic solutions of importing ideas from other countries”. There had been some concern that the committee might recommend rent controls to ease the problem of affordability but this fear was unfounded.

The NLA also endorsed the call for better, simpler regulation and for better enforcement of the rules by local authorities.

One lettings agent, Finders Keepers in Oxordshire has welcomed much of the report but has expressed disappointment that it did not recommend allowing landlords’ improvements to be made tax deductible. There are strict rules about the costs landlords can set against their income and this normally means that you can only deduct the cost of repairs, maintenance and replacement. You cannot deduct the cost you incur in actually improving your property. This is quite a complex area and we always recommend landlords to use an experienced accountant to make sure they are making the appropriate claim.

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