Navigating the Future: Sigma’s Vicky Fryer Leads the UKAA North West Hub Seminar on Rental Reform

In an era marked by rapid changes within the build-to-rent (BTR) sector, the UKAA North West Hub seminar, hosted by Irwin Mitchell LLP at their Manchester office on February 15th, proved to be an event packed with insights and collaboration. The seminar, which was led by Vicky Fryer, Sigma Capital’s Marketing Director and member of the UKAA North West Hub Steering Group, offered a platform for leading minds from the legal and BTR sectors to unravel the complexities of the upcoming Renters (Reform) Bill.

The seminar kicked off with an overview of the UKAA’s and British Property Federation’s (BPF) efforts to shape the Bill ahead of its presentation to the House of Commons. This initiative is a testament to the proactive stance of the BTR community in influencing policy to ensure a balanced, fair, and progressive rental market for all.

Legal insights: the framework of change

George Cohen, Associate Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP, took to the stage first to offer a detailed and clear analysis of the legal ramifications of the Bill. Cohen’s expertise shed light on the significant legislative changes, including the end of assured shorthold tenancies and fixed-term tenancies, which signal a transformative shift in rental agreements towards greater flexibility for tenants. As well as this, the proposed abolishment of Section 21 and amendments to Section 8 highlight a bold move towards a more equitable approach to tenancy terminations and disputes.

Cohen also highlighted the legislative introduction of a property portal and an ombudsman, which is predicted to be pivotal in improving transparency and accountability within the sector. These measures are indicative of the largest overhaul in the private rented sector in over three decades, and it’s clear that they aim to offer renters a much better deal, in line with the ethos of BTR standards.

Industry perspective: operational impact and strategic adaptations

As the seminar progressed, the focus shifted to the operational implications of the Bill, with Richard Grocott from Grainger sharing a pragmatic view from the industry’s vantage point. Grocott emphasised that the BTR sector, already embodying high standards of professionalism and tenant care, is well positioned to align with the Bill’s objectives. However, he clearly addressed the challenges posed by increased administrative burdens and costs, particularly when it came to focusing on the property register and ombudsman compliance. Another key theme identified by attendees was the potential challenge around tenancy lengths; specifically, the shift towards periodic monthly tenancies from the start could pose significant challenges for operators. This uncertainty in tenancy duration, along with possible associated costs, may serve as a deterrent for  investors looking to enter the sector..

Grocott’s discussion also covered proposed industry amendments aimed at fine-tuning the Bill to better accommodate the realities of BTR operations, including adjustments to fixed-term tenancies, notice periods, and the management of tenancy turnovers. These insights highlight the sector’s commitment to adapt and do better amidst legislative changes, and will hopefully ensure a smoother transition, which both providers and renters urgently need in today’s market.

Political undercurrents and future trajectories

The seminar also went on to focus on the broader political landscape, acknowledging the Bill as a likely unavoidable focal point in the upcoming 2024 election. With potential shifts in government and policy directions, this part of the discussion underscored the vital nature of ongoing lobbying efforts by the UKAA. The goal here is to secure a legislative framework that supports the continued growth and sustainability of the BTR sector, amidst the political ebb and flow.

The anticipation of a new BTR Code of Practice, delivered by the UKAA, in March was highlighted as a key milestone, offering even more clarity and guidance for stakeholders across the sector.

A unified path forward

The UKAA North West seminar not only put the main intricacies of the Renters (Reform) Bill in the spotlight, but also promoted a sense of real collaboration among the BTR community members in the room. Not only were the presentations and discussions insightful – but they were also spearheaded by seasoned industry and legal experts, and paved the way for a collective approach to navigating the changes that are coming. As UKAA continues to champion the interests of the BTR sector, the insights from the seminar will undoubtedly play a part in shaping strategies and responses to the evolving legislative landscape.

Together, we stand on the cusp of a new era for the rental market, driven by a shared commitment to excellence, fairness, and innovation. Stay connected with us at UKAA for ongoing updates and analysis as we journey through these transformative times, doing everything we can to secure the best possible outcomes for renters and the broader BTR sector.


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