Government’s rental reforms could become ‘charter for anti-social behaviour’

Landlords' association calls on MPs to review plans to reform the private rented sector

Government’s rental reforms could become ‘charter for anti-social behaviour’

Without urgent changes, government plans to reform the private rented sector risk becoming a charter for anti-social behaviour, according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

Ben Beadle (pictured), chief executive of the NRLA, expressed this concern as he appeared before members of parliament on the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee.

“Anti-social behaviour blights the lives of fellow tenants, neighbours, and communities alike,” Beadle remarked. “It is vital that it is tackled swiftly wherever it is found.”

He pointed out that the government’s proposals simply do not achieve this.

“Without change, the reforms will become a charter for anti-social behaviour,” Beadle stressed. “We are calling on new ministers to look again at the plans.”

Read more: Next PM must end government ‘hostility’ to landlords – NRLA.

The latest data shows that around a third, or 32%, of landlords asking a tenant to leave a property did so because their tenant had engaged in anti-social behaviour.

Under government plans to end Section 21 repossessions, landlords will be reliant on convictions if they are to have certainty about tackling problem tenants. NRLA, however, said that recent polling indicates that the public have little faith in the ability of the police and councils to tackle anti-social behaviour.

According to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, of those who experienced anti-social behaviour in the last year, just over a quarter, or 26%, reported it to the police or local authorities. Only 41% of these respondents were satisfied with the way in which their matter was addressed by these institutions.

A survey of almost 3,500 landlords and letting agents by the NRLA also found that of those who had served a notice to a tenant due to anti-social behaviour, 84% had received no assistance from their local authority, while 75% said they had received no help from the police.

The NRLA warned that without urgent changes to the government’s planned reforms, it will become more difficult to tackle behaviour that “blights the lives of neighbours and fellow tenants.”

Read more: Landlords want existing rental laws simplified.

The landlords’ association is also calling for the full implementation of the Victims’ Commissioner report on anti-social behaviour. It added that police and local authorities should be required to check the planned property portal when tackling nightmare tenants and work closely with landlords to take swift action against them, and that courts should also prioritise possession cases brought as a result of such behaviour.

Addressing the committee, Beadle also raised concerns about the damage that the government’s proposals will do to the student housing market and the urgent need for reforms to the court system.

He said that scrapping Section 21 will lead to more possession cases ending up in the courts, and, at present, legitimate cases are not processed swiftly enough. Beadle warned that unless the reforms had the confidence of responsible landlords, it would be tenants that suffer as the supply crisis in the rental market worsens.