Dorian Gonsalves, Belvoir director of commercial and franchising warned against what he called “quick fix changes to the Private Rental Sector” and called for a fair and independent review prior to the consideration of any changes.
Gonsalves said: “Belvoir is firmly committed to any changes in the Private Rental Sector that increases standards or better protection for tenants.
“However, we would be dead against any changes made at government level that in the short term may appear to benefit tenants but in the long term will make the PRS less attractive for landlords.
“The existing Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement can already run for a longer period, and changes to this could have a devastating effect on the supply of available rental properties.”
He added that it would be tenants who would ultimately bear the brunt of fewer rental properties, higher rents and a lack of alternative housing solution being provided by the government.
And in recent years independent industry experts such as the eminent academic Professor Michael Ball of Reading University who was commissioned by The Property Ombudsman to investigate the PRS, have clearly stated that in general terms the PRS is working well.
Gonsalves said: “Experts have warned of the dangers of making changes to the existing AST or forcing landlords out of the market, which some of these proposed changes by the Labour Government are likely to do.
“Tenants already have the choice of not paying letting agent fees. There is always the option to rent privately, which may be attractive to tenants who prefer a lower standard of service, with no consumer redress and a landlord who may or may not respond to maintenance issues.
“However, letting agents do not only protect the interests of landlords, but also ensure that landlords are acting correctly and are within the law, and this offers a high level of protection to tenants.
“As a founder member of the SAFE agent scheme, Belvoir has supported self-regulation for almost two decades.
“These new proposals come with a stark warning that tenants will ultimately be disadvantaged. We hope that ministers will heed the advice of experts like Professor Michael Ball.
“Belvoir’s rental index, which has been running for over six years, contradicts the figures for excessive rent rises that Mr. Miliband has quoted and, along with anybody else who understands the PRS, we would like to see a full and fair independent assessment of the PRS before any changes are even considered.”