Our Regulation and Enforcement Campaigns
There are over 150 laws and 400 regulations when it comes to letting Private Rented Sector homes and often it is the tenant left paying the price.
Complex regulatory systems are pushing up rents and preventing more investment in the private rented sector at a time when it needs to expand to help tackle the housing crisis. All this while criminal landlords continue to operate as local authorities fail to use their enforcement powers.
More and more councils across the country are looking to introduce selective licensing schemes to ‘crackdown’ on the criminals, when in fact they already have the powers do so.
Excessive regulation only serves to increase good landlords’ costs while doing nothing to those of the bad landlords who - while in the minority - are out there.
The RLA wants to ensure that there is effective sensible regulation which is not placing an unnecessary cost burden on landlords and tenants and demands a commitment that these rules will be enforced.
HMO and selective licensing
The RLA objects to local authority proposals for discretionary licensing – particularly with regard to the fee levels imposed and is speaking out against schemes across the country.
We believe that local authorities already have the powers needed to effectively monitor landlords through council tax documentation, with the figures showing 96% of councils ask for landlords’ data on these forms.
In our opinion local authorities often push these schemes through to raise funding to counter austerity cutbacks and for local political window-dressing.
Councils already have enforcement powers to take action against those who act illegally and bring the whole sector into disrepute, but are failing to use them, with just 827 prosecutions against landlords over the last five years.
Introducing schemes of this kind will see responsible landlords paying for expensive licences, while the criminals will continue to operate under the radar.
RLA believes in self-regulation for compliant landlords. To view its response to the Government's consultation for tackling rogue landlords: Tackling Rogue Landlords and Improving the Private Rental Sector.
The RLA is promoting co-regulation as an alternative to licensing and is an official co-regulation partner with Liverpool City Council, offering all RLA Co-regulation members up to 50% off all license fees (excluding HMO Licences).
The scheme, which commits members to providing high standards of housing, is available as an alternative to the council’s own licensing scheme. Landlords still need to conform to the conditions of the council’s mandatory Landlord Licensing Scheme, which requires them to have a five year licence for each of their rented properties, but is self-regulating.
For more information about the co-regulation scheme click here.
Longer Term Tenancies
In response to demands for longer term tenancies, the RLA has developed proposals that aim to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants, without the need for new legislation.
Figures show landlords are already meeting the growing need for longer tenancies in private rented housing. According to the English Housing Survey for 2014-15, the average length of residence for private sector tenants in their homes increasing to 4 years. This is up from 3.5 years last year and a new 5 year high.
We are currently lobbying the Government to remove barriers to longer term tenancies, including restrictions imposed on landlords by lenders and by freeholders of leases without the need for compulsory three or five year tenancies.
Immigration and Right to Rent
The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the concept of 'right to rent' to the private rented sector.
Landlords must not authorise an adult to occupy a property as their only or main home unless they can establish the adult has a right to reside in the UK. This means landlords are now required to check the identification of everyone who is over 18 and expected to occupy the property.
We strongly opposed the introduction of right to rent checks, we believe this is an unnecessary burden on landlords and may exclude vulnerable groups without relevant documents from private rented housing.
The government extended the scope of the right to rent checks in the 2016 Immigration Act. In addition to the civil penalty a criminal offence was introduced, meaning landlords can face up to 5 years in jail for knowingly letting to someone who has no right to rent.
The RLA is campaigning for significant concessions from the government, meaning landlords will not have committed a criminal offence if landlords are taking reasonable steps to evict these tenants/occupiers from their properties.