Carolyn Uphill, new Chairman of the National Landlords Association (NLA), talks about the past, the challenges ahead and her visions for the future of the private-rented sector (PRS).
The prospect of leading an organisation that has grown over the past 40 years from a small, regional association to a national entity with representatives throughout the UK presents a daunting but exciting challenge.
Big boots to fill
The NLA has grown in size, depth of experience and influence which is in no small part due to the many contacts which our outgoing Chair David Salusbury built up during his long career at the helm.
He will undoubtedly prove a hard act to follow, but I inherit an organisation that has developed a level of service and support for landlords which is second to none. We claim to be the pre-eminent representative organisation in the private-rented sector and justifiably so. However, we mustn’t rest on our laurels and there is much more we can do.
The PRS is expanding at a rapid rate and has grown to accommodate some 3.8 million households – that’s as many as the social housing sector of local authorities and housing associations put together. And it’s growth looks set to continue – projections suggest that, even allowing for a recovery in owner occupation, the PRS could house as much as a third of all households by 2030.
If we’re serious about wanting legislators to take our views into account I believe that the reputation of landlords must be further enhanced through raising standards in property management. In doing so we can demonstrate a collective professionalism that Government simply can’t overlook.
Raising standards and professionalism in the PRS are two key themes that I intend to focus on during my term in office. But you might be wondering what my other visions for the organisation and, to a greater extent, the whole sector are? To summarise:
- A sound and stable trade association serving and supporting the PRS
- The NLA encouraging, and enabling via Accreditation, the PRS to strive for high standards in both accommodation and property management.
- Greater recognition from Government and the media of the contribution of the PRS to society and the economy
- More effective cohesion between industry representatives; developing on existing partnerships and forging new lines of communication
- Anticipation of the needs and the campaigns of the future.
A national organisation that operates regionally
Finally, the regulatory emphasis for the PRS has shifted in recent years from central to local government. We must anticipate local political thinking in order to head off heavy handed use of licensing and planning restrictions to solve issues for which there are better, more targeted solutions. With our network of local reps, the NLA is uniquely placed to influence this thinking on the ground.
I also see it as part of my role to make time to visit the regions, attend branch meetings and hear first-hand from our members. I therefore hope that I can look forward to the opportunity to meet many of you in due course.