Evaluation of PRS legislation needs better data

There are over 125 individual pieces of legislation that now govern the private rented sector (PRS) and much of this is essential to support a safe, fair and protected housing market for landlords and tenants alike. However, the piecemeal approach often applied by the various Government departments that are involved in the PRS, has made it increasingly complex and difficult to navigate for those involved.

In advance of the Government’s Renters Reform White Paper, which is due later this year, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee was charged with looking into the sector and earlier this month published its report on the Regulation of Private Renting. The report claims that above all better data is needed to understand issues within the PRS in England to evaluate the impact of legislative changes on landlords, tenants, the housing market as a whole and the effectiveness of regulation.

The report also states that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) should work across government, to understand how the reforms may affect or be affected by other policy areas such as benefits and tax.

The National Audit Office (NAO) also highlighted in a report in December 2021 that DLUHC needs to gather further information about the PRS to provide better regulation and enforcement. The NAO report claims that DLUHC will struggle to measure the impact of its interventions without this data but has not yet developed a plan to improve the information it has available.

The Public Accounts Committee recommended that a coherent data strategy was developed to identify and collect the data it needs to understand the problems renters are facing and evaluate the impact of legislative changes. That a more proactive approach was needed to support local regulators and share good practice and to do so, it should learn from other consumer protection systems that provide central intelligence and support to local regulators.    

“Without a long-term vision for the sector, it seems that more fragmented policies are on their way,” commented Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns,  Propertymark, “with the startling statement that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is making decisions, such as on the issue of retaliatory evictions, without having all the evidence and data it needs to do so.
“There are at least six government departments that interact with the private rented sector and if the UK Government are serious about reforms, then all relevant Ministers, officials and stakeholders including local authorities must be at the same table, working together and setting out a roadmap for reform that cuts across all the different policy areas.”

I will continue working with Propertymark on this and keep you updated as the work progresses but let me know if you would like any further information at this stage. Also, as always, if you would like any other advice on the local property market let me know, as I am always happy to help.