As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on the year in the PRS

It seems the last 12 months for the Private Rented Sector hasn’t been as dramatic as some had feared. Here’s a round-up of the key changes:

January’s cabinet reshuffle saw the former Housing Minster Alok Sharma replaced by Dominic Raab after just seven months in this post.

Meanwhile in his new role of Secretary of Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid was given ultimate responsibility for Housing policy, moving it to a cabinet position.From April, landlords now have a legal requirement to ensure any properties they intend to rent meet minimum energy efficiency standards.

This means that no new tenancies can be granted on properties with an EPC of F or lower, until energy efficiency measures have been implemented. The following month all talk was of the new General Data Protection Regulations, which place greater responsibility and an increased risk of fines on any entity that handles personal data – including private landlords who manage their own properties.

Meanwhile, throughout the year there was a rise in the number of Selective License schemes that landlords have to comply with. This increased the complexity for private landlords, particularly those with properties in more than one region. Additionally, the definition of an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) changed in October, meaning more landlords now have to comply with Mandatory Licensing rules.

Back to politics, and Dominic Raab lasted just six months in his role before briefly becoming Brexit Secretary, whilst Sajid Javid moved to the Home Office after just four months in post. Can we expect the newest Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire and the current Housing Minister Kit Malthouse to continue overseeing our sector throughout 2019? Watch this space!

But sadly, despite calls for changes to support landlords, there was very little in the way of positive intervention. Together with many in the industry we asked for a reversal of tax breaks and a reduction in the additional stamp duty levy on second homes – but the calls were ignored.

However, despite any positive intervention, private landlords still provide homes for an estimated 5 million households - making up
approximately 21% of all tenure types in the UK.