Consumer Rights in the Private Rented Sector

This report from The Smith Institute shows that consumer protection for England’s 4.5m private renters is sub-standard and compares poorly with other sectors, such as energy, telecoms and financial services.

It concludes that private tenants need greater protection and more power as consumers in the rental market. Tenants should be able to identify bad landlords who flout the rule and have access to homes that they can be confident will be safe, secure and affordable. Private landlords meanwhile must have greater clarity about their obligations.

While people over 65 are a small minority of all households renting privately, the report calls for a new Private Rented Sector Regulator oversee compliance with standards, support local authorities in their enforcement role, and ensure both tenants’ and landlords’ voices are heard.

It also recommends an open-ended Private Residential Tenancy, including removing no-fault evictions and increasing notice periods for longer term tenants.

It also proposes reform of the redress and dispute resolution by introducing mandatory membership of the Housing Ombudsman Service for private rented sector landlords and lettings agents; an independent Private Renters Panel to represent interests of renters and engage with Government and the new Regulator on policy development; and an obligation on all landlords to provide better information for tenants.