Proposals for a national register of landlords have been included in a report on selective licensing out today.
The RLA is extremely disappointed with the recommendation, which it believes could end up harming those it is designed to help.
The association fears it will push up costs and increase red tape for those landlords providing good quality homes to rent, while criminal landlords providing sub-standard or dangerous homes simply ignore the requirement and continue to operate below the radar.
The government commissioned an independent consultant-led inquiry into selective licensing last year, overseen by a working group made up of local government and industry representatives.
Conservative ministers have always opposed plans for a national register, with Minister for the PRS Heather Wheeler saying last year: “The Government does not support a mandatory register of private landlords.
“The majority of landlords provide decent and well managed accommodation and requiring those landlords to sign up to a national register would introduce an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy.”
The government will now need to consider the recommendation – along with others in the report – to decide which, if any, they want to adopt.
Unnecessary and costly
John Stewart, RLA policy manager, said: “Ministers have repeatedly made clear that a national register of landlords would become an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy.
“We agree. All it would become is a list of good landlords which brings us no closer to finding the crooks that operate under the radar.”
The RLA objects to selective licensing schemes on the basis they offer no guarantees when it comes to the quality of homes, with no property inspections required as part of the licensing requirement.
RLA research has also shown there is no clear link between a council operating a licensing scheme for landlords and levels of enforcement.
High fees ‘replacing government funding’
Mr Stewart added: “Selective licensing has become a replacement for lost central government funding and provides no assurances to tenants about the quality of accommodation.
“Properties do not need to be inspected before a landlord is given a licence and the RLA has found that many councils are charging eye-watering sums of money for almost nothing in return.
“Local authorities need the will and the resources to put real effort into finding the criminal landlords who never come forward to make themselves known.
“That means using a range of information they can already access including council tax returns, information on tenancy deposits and benefit data to root out the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.”
RLA evidence was quoted in a Commons debate on the issue of a mandatory register last year, in which MP Sir Christopher Chope, the Chair of the APPG for the PRS, described plans as a ‘stealth tax’ on landlords.
As an alternative to selective licensing, the RLA supports a system of self-regulation for landlords, whereby compliant landlords join a co-regulation scheme which deals with standards and complaints in the first instance, while those outside the scheme remain under the scope of local authority enforcement.
To read the government report in full click here.