Chair and Secretary’s Report
Annual General Meeting, 27 September 2017
In most towns and cities it seems clear that the private rented sector continues to grow as access to homeownership and public housing becomes increasingly restricted. More than 9 million people now live in private rented housing in England, and it is the only housing tenure that is growing.
The last twelve months have seen some welcome changes in the law relating to enforcement work in the private rented sector, with the introduction of the civil penalty provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, and with particular relevance to tenancy relations enforcement work, the extension of Rent Repayment Orders to include unlawful eviction offences. We also have
With Banning Orders in the pipeline and very possibly, an extension of HMO licensing to remove the 3 story rule, private sector enforcement remains very much in the public eye. The tragic and horrific fire at Grenfell Tower further highlighted the importance of ensuring high standards in the management of rented housing.
However ATRO remains very concerned about issues such as the lack of security of tenure the sector provides for vulnerable tenants, and the inconsistency of enforcement of the Protection from Eviction Act across the country.
In relation to security of tenure, ATRO urges the government to monitor the effects of the abolition of the automatic shorthold ground for possession (section 21) in Scotland, and to consider whether, the effects of this change lend any support to the long standing argument, that section 21 is necessary for the private rented sector to be able to play its optimum role in providing safe and viable homes.
This year ATRO has continued to try to make a contribution to support members and influence policy. Amongst other things, we have:
- delivered / planned training for 3 different local authorities in Southwark, for which we received very positive feedback, and a boost to ATRO funds
- updated the Guidance page on our website www.atro-online.com,
- produced newsletters for members publicising issues of interest to TROs
- liaised with Shelter on policy initiatives to do with security of tenure and Protection from Eviction act enforcement
- made comments to the DCLG on the proposed legislation to ban Letting Fees
- met with the Chair of the DCLG Select Committee to promote our views on the future of private renting, Protection from Eviction enforcement and the short comings of the retaliatory eviction protection
- worked with the BBC Rip Off Britain programme, briefing them and helping prepare the script about a feature on return of deposit issues
- provided an interview with a Guardian journalist for use in article about evictions in the private rented sector.
The website, whilst much improved, continues to need updating and adding to the challenge, as ever, being for committee members to find the time to keep it updated and meaningful.
Indeed, there is much more that we could be doing. We need as much help as we can get & would be very grateful for volunteers to join the Committee
In the meantime I think we should at least all have the confidence that with the Private Rented Sector continuing to grow, with Private Rented Sector issues falling more and more under the spotlight, and with it, the Local Authority role in policing, facilitating and supporting the Sector, then the argument for tenancy relations services, and for adequate resourcing for those services, becomes all the stronger.
Dave Hickling, Chair,
Andrew Greathead, Secretary
ATRO, September 2017