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Consumer law and housing – contemporary developments Presentation by Martin Partington Conference on Contemporary Housing Issues, Galway, April 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Consumer law and housing – contemporary developments Presentation by Martin Partington Conference on Contemporary Housing Issues, Galway, April 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Consumer law and housing – contemporary developments Presentation by Martin Partington Conference on Contemporary Housing Issues, Galway, April 2012

2 Outline Reflexions on the English housing market Linking housing and consumer law The Commission’s programme – Renting homes – Dispute resolution – Responsible renting Subsequent developments – promoting the consumer approach Closing remarks

3 Issues in the English housing market not enough housing the unequal political and social balance between house purchase and home rental; the decline of social housing; the increased role of the PRS; the problems with the PRS – mom and pop industry; lack of institutional investment; reputational issues.

4 Issues in the English housing market (2) English Housing Survey: ‘In , 66% of households were owner occupiers. This appears to continue the gradual downward trend observed from The social rented sector accounted for 17.5% of households and the private rented sector accounted for 16.5% of households.’ ‘Figure 1 shows that over the last 30 years the difference between the number of social renters and private renters has narrowed from over 3 million to around 200,000.’

5 Linking housing and consumer law Housing Act 1988 – The choice agenda – Promotion of Housing Associations – Consumers = the poor Liberalisation of the PRS – Missed opportunity? Housing Act 1996 – Further liberalisation EU – UTCCR Regs 1999 – application to tenancies Work of the OFT (2005)

6 The Law Commission’s programme (1) Renting Homes – Law reform – getting the law clearer Housing: Proportionate Dispute Resolution – Emphasis on advice and ADR Encouraging Responsible Renting – Regulation of the PRS – new approaches

7 Law Commission’s programme (2): What we were trying to achieve Level the playing field for social and private sectors The consumer protection approach – better understanding of mutual rights and obligations; – plain language agreement that actually reflected what the law said New approaches to dispute resolution Analysis of a sensible regulatory approach But:...frustrations in trying to ‘sell’ the approach

8 Subsequent developments promoting the consumer approach(1) Labour Government – Tenant Services Authority – Tenancy Deposit Protection – Thought about: landlord registration; Rugg Model agreements Regulation of letting agents

9 Subsequent developments promoting the consumer approach(2) Conservatives/Coalition Government – Against regulation; though in favour of consumer protection – Retain TDP – Abandoned the rest – Localism Act 2011 – even more complexity – How do you protect the consumer without effective regulation?

10 Subsequent developments promoting the consumer approach(3) Wales – likely to register letting agents – are thinking about wider aspects of our work Scotland Introduced – landlord registration – About to launch TDP Northern Ireland – About to launch TDP

11 Subsequent developments promoting the consumer approach(4) Things happening in the market place: – Local authority working with the rented sector – accreditation Continuing efforts to promote letting agent regulation – the professional bodies TDP has certainly offered consumer protection for deposits But: Reputational problems remain Courts still v inefficient way of resolving disputes Fundamental need to clarify the legislation Failure to attract significant new institutional investment.

12 Closing remarks Blueprint for policy flexibiltiy Legal framework to encourage private investment Make life better for tenants and landlords How to get politicians to take renting seriously?


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