Housing reforms could be dead on arrival without government action

Where possession cases are disputed, we need a system that better supports landlords and tenants to reach agreement without the need to go to court. That is why we are calling for a new landlord/tenant dispute body, similar to the employment organisation Acas. Crucially this would have teeth, which current mediation schemes do not. 

Under our proposals, if a tenant failed to properly engage with such a body or did not abide by whatever was agreed, the case should then be fast-tracked through the courts. Likewise, if the landlord failed to do so the courts could ensure the case was not prioritised. 

Where cases do end up in court, they need to be dealt with much more efficiently. The fact that it can take around a year for legitimate repossession claims to reach a conclusion leaves landlords in limbo.  

Much greater use should be made of video technology for cases to be heard by the courts, ensuring we do not have to rely on slow, face-to-face proceedings.

Importantly, ensuring tenants can access legal advice and support much earlier in the process should become more of a priority in this area.

Ministers have also committed to developing lifetime deposits for renters. This proposal seeks to ensure that, when moving to a new rental property, tenants do not need to raise fresh sums of money for a deposit before getting back what they paid on their previous accommodation. 

Making it easier for tenants to move in this way is clearly a good thing. But it is vital that landlords remain protected from damage that might have been caused to a property. To achieve this balance, we propose a couple of potential models, either a new deposit Isa for renters or a financial facility to help tenants bridge the transition from one tenancy to another could be workable solutions.

For far too long, debate around the private rented sector has been polarised, with false impressions being given that tenants are largely being exploited by rogue and criminal landlords. 

It is true that there are landlords who should not be operating in the sector and that is why we want enforcement against them to be improved. But the reality is that in the majority of cases landlords and tenants enjoy a good relationship, and according to the English Housing Survey, 83 per cent of private tenants are satisfied with their accommodation. 

It is upon this that the planned reforms need to build.

Ben Beadle is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association. @NRLAssociation

The NRLA has published a White Paper today called A New Deal for the Private Rented Sector which can be downloaded here