Examination of Witness

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:32 am ar 16 Tachwedd 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Judicaelle Hammond:

We are looking at the Bill very much from the rural perspective, and there are differences between rural and urban areas. A survey of our members in 2020 found that 90% of respondents provided some form of private rented housing. In a more recent survey, we found that 23% of respondents’ properties were let out at less than 80% of market rent, which means that CLA members are, in effect, key providers of affordable rural housing.

We represent rural landlords, but we also represent rural businesses that are trying to grow. To do so, they mostly need staff, and staff need somewhere to live. The private rented sector provides flexibility and solutions for people who either cannot or do not wish to buy. However, we are worried because the private rented sector is shrinking at an alarming rate: Government figures suggest a reduction of 16.5% between 2018 and 2021 in the number of privately rented homes in areas defined as rural. That is in line with what we are hearing on the grapevine. I should probably say that one thing that the CLA does is provide one-to-one, bespoke advice to members, including on the legal aspects of residential properties.

In 2023, we ran a member survey with a particular focus on housing in England. It suggested that 44% of rural landlords are planning to sell some of their properties over the next two years. Of those, 90% said that that was mainly for two reasons. The first was stricter minimum energy efficiency standards, which are expensive as well as technically difficult to implement in the kind of properties that our members have; the second was removal of section 21, which brings us to this Bill.

Our members are concerned because, at the moment, section 21 provides reassurance that they can get a property back relatively quickly if their personal circumstances change; if their business need changes, which is quite prevalent in rural areas; or if, God forbid, something is going wrong with the tenancy. That is something that section 8, both in its current form and in its new form, would not provide, because of the need for a court hearing. That is why we would want a court system that works. Actually, members would ideally prefer to have a version of section 21 at their disposal, albeit perhaps with a longer notice period.