Renters' Reform Bill: Your guide to the proposed property portal for landlords
Details about the new property portal for landlords in England have been released in the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper.
The government's Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper has revealed that landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) will be legally required to register their properties on a new property portal, under the Renters' Reform Bill. This portal will deliver a single "front door" to help landlords understand their obligations, give tenants more insight into their landlords' compliance, and give local councils access to more data, so that they can target criminal landlords.
You can download a full overview in our e-book, Renters' Reform Bill: Your guide to the "A Fairer Private Rented Sector" white paper.
What will the new property portal look like?
The new digital property portal will be a "trusted one-stop-shop for guidance on renting in the PRS". It will give tenants more transparency on the standard of the property they're renting and give councils more visibility when serious issues arise.
The government has not yet put forward proposals on exactly how this portal will work, but it will test potential solutions for the portal, focusing on user research and engaging with representative groups to make sure that the new system works for everyone involved. The final solution will also be future proofed, so it can "flex to support future policy developments."
How will compliance be improved through the new portal?
The government will also look into how it can combine the compliance and legal requirements in the portal to achieve the portal's goal of creating more transparency.
A "lead operating authority" will be considered too, to help local councils use the portal in the best way. The portal will also aim to help councils enforce against criminal landlords, and the government will consider incorporating some functionality of the existing Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents to boost these efforts, in the future.
How will communications be improved alongside the portal?
The white paper recognises that there are many rules and regulations for landlords to follow, which can be "overwhelming" - particularly for first-time landlords - and that communication is therefore key to "ensure clarity across the sector".
The government will look into how it can make sure messages "reach the right groups", using existing touch points to improve communication with those in receipt of benefits and working with partners that already provide information to landlords and tenants, such as Citizens Advice and the National Residential Landlords Association.
How will visibility into the rights and responsibilities for tenants and landlords be improved?
Landlords are already required to share the "how to rent" guide with their tenants at the start of the tenancy.
The white paper outlines that, in the future, landlords will also need to provide a written tenancy agreement which sets out all the basic information and responsibilities for the parties involved - which should help avoid disputes.
What information will tenants be able to access through the portal?
Although tenants will be able to access "necessary information in relation to their landlord’s identity and compliance with key legislative requirements", the white paper shares that not all data will be publicly available.
It will instead balance landlords’ privacy concerns against the information that private tenants require to make an informed decision when choosing their new rented home.
Is the property portal a landlord register?
In a recent Q&A, Sean Hooker commented on the practical nature of calling it a "property portal" rather than a "landlord register", explaining that this focuses on the property itself, rather than the landlord.
"There's a lot of advantages to that," he says. "Properties don't move. They stay where they are. They are what they are. So it doesn't matter if you change ownership or management of it, the property is still going to be there. And if you focus on a condition, and this is why they're pushing these decent home standards, the register will be on the property. And it will stay there regardless of whether the landlord is renting out or not."
Please note this is intended as a guide only and is not exhaustive. Read more on the recommendations at gov.uk.