The Residential Landlords Association has called on the industry and the Government to establish a common survey on rents, following an investigation showing a chasm between different rent indices.
The study showed a huge disparity in the rents being quoted, for example between Belvoir, at £682 a month, and ARLA, at £1,974 a month.
When looking at London the disparities become even bigger, with LSL quoting average rents in the capital at just over £1,100 and ARLA putting the figure for central London rents at over £4,100.
According to the Government’s official data from the Valuation Office Agency, however, average rents across England in the 12 months to September 2012 stood at £705, an increase of 1.3% on 12 months before.
Alan Ward, chair of the RLA, who was yesterday due to give evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into the private rented sector, said: “When making policy, it is vital that ministers have clear and authoritative data from which to make their decisions.
“As there is a great deal of media and political attention focused on the private rented sector, given its increasing size and concern over the impact of major reforms to housing benefits, it is worrying that ministers are making decisions based on unreliable and often widely different data.
“In the interests of good policy and to ensure public confidence in data on private rents, there needs to be one rental level index in which all parties can have complete confidence and which no longer gets driven by the commercial interests of lettings agents.”
The Valuation Office Agency data versus the media headlines also prompted another landlord organisation to say that there was no ‘scandal’ attached to private rents, and that ministers should drop the whole idea of rent controls. See story above.