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Private rented sector: new code of practice

Promoting best practice

17 September 2014

A new code of practice outlines mandatory and recommended best practice in order to improve the stock of privately rented homes in the UK


Too many privately rented homes in the UK fail to meet the English housing survey standards. As a response to this, the Private rented sector code of practice (1st edition) (PRS code), which published in September 2014, was developed at the request of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and was facilitated by RICS. Seventeen leading property organisations were involved in developing the code.


The code is an excellent set of rules and provides clarity for all those involved in the sector

Landlords or agents responsible for the letting and management of homes have a minimum duty to achieve basic compliance required by law. But they should aspire to a standard above minimum legal requirements, and in line with industry best practice. The PRS code intends to promote best practice, ultimately aiming to ensure:

  • good-quality homes for rent;
  • consistent and high standards of management; and
  • choice for the consumer.

It outlines mandatory and recommended best practice for landlords and lettings agents in order to improve the stock of privately rented homes. The code comes into effect immediately. 

Responses

'The industry knows what good practice looks like', says Andrew Bulmer, UK Residential Director of RICS. But bringing together so many different stakeholders - landlords, property managers, letting agents, ombudsmen and deposit protection scheme administrators - was always going to be a challenge. 'It is to everyone’s credit that the code has come into being, and in record time', Bulmer believes.

Christopher Hamer, the Property Ombudsman, praised the fact that a common set of standards have been agreed that will allow 'the consumer [to have] consistent treatment whichever agent they are dealing with.' He believes the code will help unite the industry, and 'will highlight to consumers those agents who do not want to conform and who pose a greater risk'.

Lewis Shand Smith, Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services: Property, echoed these sentiments, stating:

'The code is an excellent set of rules and provides clarity for all those involved in the sector. This, together with the requirement that all lettings and managing agents have to be belong to an ombudsman scheme from 1 October 2014, is a significant step forward to effective and comprehensive consumer protection.'

Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis, welcomed the publication, stating:

'The private rented sector plays a vital role in our housing market ... tenants and landlords should have confidence that they will be treated fairly ... I would urge all landlords to take account of the new code.'

Next steps

The majority of tenants are satisfied with the performance of their landlords, and the majority of landlords and letting agents provide a good service. However, a small minority who exploit tenants drag the reputation of the sector down.

The next challenge for industry and enforcement agencies is to use the code to tackle the persistent minority of bad landlords and lettings agents who fail their customers, put lives at risk and damage the reputation of the responsible majority.

Further information