Reforming the PRS: letting agent views of the Renters (Reform) Bill

In this report, we share insights into the Renters (Reform) Bill from the perspective of letting agents, a key force for change within the sector. The research, conducted with a geographically representative sample of Propertymark letting agent members, provides valuable evidence, which policy makers can use to help shape the Bill in its final stages and thereafter inform its implementation.

Reforming the PRS, letting agent views of the Renters (Reform) Bill.jpg

The report begins with a contextual overview of the English PRS and the pivotal role of lettings agents in supporting professionalism and regulation within the sector. Thereafter, there is an overview of the genesis of the Renters (Reform) Bill and a summary of its key deliverables.

The Bill seeks to ‘deliver a fairer, more secure, and higher quality private rented sector for both tenants and landlords’. In many respects, the Bill is an opportunity for the English PRS to catch up with legislation, which in the main, is already in place in other parts of the UK. We know from the implementation of this legislation, that such changes are subject to mixed success and prone to unintended outcomes. 

The regrowth of the PRS

The English private rented sector has rapidly regrown over the last two decades. The scale of the regrowth is significant and the sector is now home to around 4.6 million (19%) of English households. This re-growth has been led by many private investors (landlords) who tend to own a small number of properties each and operate on a part time basis.

The PRS plays a critical role in ensuring flexibility within the housing system with average tenancy durations equating to around a third of those in the social rented sector. As it has grown, the PRS has displaced rates of home ownership and social renting. 

The importance of letting agent views

According to the English Landlord Survey, 46% of landlords in England use a letting agent for letting services and 18% use a letting agent for management services. Beyond these headline categories, letting agents fulfil a myriad of hidden roles as mediators, gatekeepers, market movers and compliance managers.

Letting agents have a deep and longstanding understanding of the sector and the properties and landlords within it. As such, lettings agents are well positioned to provide a range of material insights into the appropriateness of the Bill and its likely unintended outcomes.