Thank you to everybody who attended the ARLA Conference 2016 on Tuesday 12 April 2016 at ExCeL London, the UK's biggest and best lettings conference and exhibition. You all helped make it a truly memorable event which was jam-packed full of opportunities for education, entertainment and networking.

Keynote speakers included Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis MP, entrepreneur Deborah Meaden and journalist and former Cabinet Minister Michael Portillo who helped create and maintain a lot of energy and interest.

They also led open discussions with the delegates on issues around policy affecting the industry, the lettings market broadly, and the business environment for letting agents.

Throughout the day delegates could put their questions to the room via, an audience interaction and Q & A app.

ARLA Conference and Exhibition 2016

ARLA President Peter Savage was handed the task of addressing the conference first, thanking everyone for attending the 21st ARLA Conference and explaining about our vision and what is important for businesses within the sector right now such as attracting and retaining staff, and how the education and training opportunities ARLA offers can help. He urged politicians and local authorities who haven't already done so to read 'Housing 2025', a flagship piece of research done by ARLA and NAEA in conjunction with Cebr.

  • Aceestateagent - Peter Savage kicks off the @arla_uk #ARLAConf2016 with a rousing speech #Excel #London #lettings

Speaking after the event, Peter said: “The value of hearing from so many experts and debating real issues that face consumers and the industry cannot be underestimated. This year’s conference involved an extremely high standard of speakers, debates and audience which resulted in it being the most successful to date.”

David Cox, ARLA MD took to the stage next to provide a look back at how the industry has changed over the past year and how ARLA is helping its members stay abreast of the frequent legislation changes. He also gave examples of the impact ARLA has had by lobbying Government and raising our profile, highlighting some of our key achievements, followed by a look forward to what the future holds.

  • EndsleighLet - Interesting first session. Great talk from David Cox from @arla_uk about the industry. Bring on the next session #ARLAConf2016

  • GibbsGillespie - David Cox, MD @arla_uk on stage talking about the recent changes in the UK #rentalmarket

Michael Portillo was a real hit with the crowd, delivering an entertaining, passionate and insightful speech which seemed to endear him to the delegates.

His speech began with a light-hearted and humorous introduction which the audience warmed to, but went on to say that he thought that Cameron's decision to hold a Brexit referendum was a bad one which has resulted in a paralysed Government who are obsessed with the referendum.

When asked "what is it like to be a minister on the end of lobbying?" he replied:

"Ministers do listen to trade associations such as ARLA who are known for having a commitment to high standards."

He also stressed how important it was for leaders and spokespeople to take the time to get to know junior ministers and civil servants so that they can form effective working relationships with them.

After all, "Civil servants stay, but politicians come and go." he said.

And in response to a call for industry-wide regulation rather than persistent tinkering with sections of the law he argued:

"It's not 'tinkering', it's a strategy. The Government is deeply ashamed of its own housing policy."

  • Alexandre_Boyes - What an amazing speech from Michael Portillo #ARLAConf2016 @arla_uk

  • Simesh - He was excellent. Candid, honest and funny @arla_uk

Michale Portillo and Deborah Meaden

Deborah Meaden took up the post-lunch slot; never an easy one to fill. But she managed to keep the audience engaged and inevitably drew on the odd Dragon's Den anecdote or two, and invited questions from the floor.

She said the private rented sector was entrepreneurial and full of self-motivated professionals who like working with people and agreed that supply of decent quality rental stock was an issue. She said that regulation is an issue for every industry, although she did admit that taxation was a "bad one for you guys".

  • DeborahMeaden - Thank you for the invitation. You have an interested and engaged membership.

  • DeborahMeaden - Great audience... I thoroughly enjoyed that... Thank you @arla_uk glad you asked me!

Robert Bolwell from Dutton Gregory Solicitors is always a huge draw and well received, and this year was no exception. He gave a whistlestop tour of recent legislation including Section 21 Prescribed Notices, Right to Rent checks, Energy Efficiency Improvements, Stamp Duty changes, flood insurance and the Housing and Planning Bill 2015. With such dry subjects to talk you could be forgiven for imagining that double doses of coffee might be in order, but as always he managed to inject humour and keep things light and easy to understand.

landlordtweets – Robert is very entertaining & informative at #ARLAConf2016 DG_LandT @DuttonGregory @arla_uk I learned something I didn't know#property

A lively roundtable discussion on fees, commissions, rent control and government priorities for the sector, chaired by Julian Worricker, took place involving panellists from Generation Rent, Shelter and the National Landlords Association, along with Kevin Hollinrake MP.

Later in the day there was also a discussion around consumer laws – and whether they work – which involved Baroness Hayter, Hilary Osborne from The Guardian, David Smith, Policy Director at the Residential Landlords Association and representatives from Citizens Advice.

The exhibition space, where landlords and other industry professionals could attend for free, was packed and a real hub of activity. All the biggest and best product suppliers and service providers were there to advise, inform and demonstrate, and there were even some FREE presentations given throughout the day.

Of course it wasn't all serious though - activities on offer ranged from testing your reflexes on the ARLA stand in a game of Batak, a rapid reaction game popular with formula one drivers and which also featured in Guy Martin's recent series. For a more sedate experience, many took time out to sit and have their caricature done on the FixFlo stand, and there was even a prop-filled selfie booth available for those industry professionals who wanted to capture a somewhat less formal photo to mark the occasion.

Congratulations to Leigh Brand from Spencer and Leigh who took the prize for the highest score on Batak, winning a Fortnum and Mason hamper.

  • LetMC Great @arla_uk Conference! The stand was never quiet!

  • PayProp - What a great and inspiring day at stand B12 #ARLAConf2016 thank you @arla_uk!

  • InventoryBase - We're pretty consumed at #arlaconf2016 today - did you come and say hi? It's been a hectic but awesome day! @arla_uk

  • BeyondResi - Great day already! Amazing variety of exhibition stands here at #ARLAConf2016 #property @arla_uk@ExCeLLondon

  • NoLettingGo - @arla_uk Great event, interesting discussions and happy to meet so many new people!

Feedback received from the day has so far been excellent. But don't just take our word for it - other Tweets from the day include:

PropertyCNN – Great day @arla_uk Conference yesterday. Students met ARLA President Peter Savage.

PlanUpUK – Great day down at the @arla_uk Conference yesterday. @ExCeLLondon is a fab venue.

PropertyCNN - @norwichcollege students met up with @BrandonLewis on stage @arla_uk Conference

Sally_lawson – Baroness Hayter opposes the Immigration check requirements for landlords #ARLAConf20216 @arla_uk

AgentsCircle – Awesome #ARLAConference yesterday, well done @arla_uk post on!

SkyriderDragoon – Had a very informative day today at the @arla_uk 2016 Conference. Hoping to return next year as a member of ARLA instead of as student!

TheCowshedLeek – Had my student membership of @arla_uk confirmed today. All very exciting!

TomLefek – Great day, great venue @ExCeLLondon great speakers and great exhibitors. See you next year. @arla_uk #ARLAConf2016

landlordtweets – A brilliant day #ARLAConf2016 well done everyone. Well organised

NedwardsNick - Had a fantastic time @arla_uk conference yesterday. Fantastic session from @DeborahMeaden and Michael Portillo. #ARLAConf2016

AllsopLLP - Clear support from @BrandonLewis on #buildtorent @arla_uk conference. Recent tax changes not viewed as barrier to institutional investment.

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Photography by Andrew Brackenbury