What will the new consumer protection review of the rental sector address?

28 February 2023

The Competition and Markets Authority will probe housebuilding and consumer protection in the rented sector in a new market study and research project.

New research projects looking into housebuilding as well as the experience of renters have been launched by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The studies aims to help the authority better understand the challenges of the rented sector in England, Scotland, and Wales in relationship to consumer protection, as well as address concerns around the speed and scale of housing delivery. 

What will be addressed in the rented sector project?

A research project will analyse tenants' experiences, from finding somewhere to live and renting the property to the move between properties.

It will also look into any consumer protection issues that may crop up for tenants - as well as the relationship between tenants and landlords, and the role of letting agents.

How will letting agents, tenants, and landlords be involved in the project?

In the initial probe, the CMA will use "targeted stakeholder engagement" to gain an understanding of what the next steps should be.

This could then include a call for evidence from tenants and landlords, to address consumers’ rights and consumer protection law.

PODCAST: How tenant consumer choice affects lettings trends and creates  opportunities - with Reposit's Ben Grech

What will the housebuilding market study address?

Understanding that the current supply of homes doesn't match demand, a market study will look into four areas:

  • The quality of housing, in relation to the requirements of communities and buyers, and estate management fees
  • Land management and whether "banking" land before or after receiving planning permission is anti-competitive
  • Local authority involvement in the delivery of homes, and how developers negotiate around the requirements of affordable homes
  • Innovation and what may be holding house builders back from using new and more sustainable building techniques to create net zero homes

How long will the research take?

The research into the rented sector is expected to take three months to complete, with a report expected to be published in summer 2023.

The results of the market study into housebuilding is expected to be published within 12 months of the start of the study.  

What are the expected outcomes?

The CMA aims to use the information gathered to promote an environment where "people can be confident they are getting great choices and fair deals", and to understand the issues that consumers face.

The market study around housebuilding may therefore lead to:

  • Recommendations being made to the government
  • Businesses being encouraged to to self-regulate
  • Enforcement action against firms
  • Further investigation

In the rented sector, this may eventually lead to more enforcement or new consumer guidance for both landlords and tenants.

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