The RLA is… calling for a greater use of local accreditation schemes to free up councils to use their existing powers more effectively to root out criminal landlords.
Labour leader Ed Miliband used a speech to the Fabian Society to call for a national register of landlords which, he argued, would “give greater powers for local authorities to root out and strike off rogue landlords.”
The RLA’s chairman, Alan Ward, was quoted extensively in the Independent on Sunday arguing that it would prove to be an ineffective measure that would cost too much and deliver very little. The RLA is instead calling for a greater use of local accreditation schemes to free up councils to use their existing powers more effectively to root out criminal landlords.
The RLA is arranging for the shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, to visit Leeds to hear for himself from landlords about the benefits of the accreditation scheme operating there.
To coincide with Ed Miliband’s announcement, the Opposition initiated a half-day debate in the House of Commons on the private rented sector, which is available online.
During the debate, whilst pressing the Government to accept Labour’s proposal for a national register, Jack Dromey further highlighted the Party’s call for effective regulation of lettings agents, citing the RLA for having supported the proposal.
On the Conservative benches, and from the housing minister, Mark Prisk, in particular, concerns were raised that further regulation would serve only as a barrier to current and potential new landlords investing in much-needed new properties. It was also widely accepted by Coalition MPs that local authorities already have sufficient powers to deal with those landlords bringing the sector into disrepute.
In the end, MPs voted to reject Labour’s motion and supported the Government’s amendment to call for measures to tackle the “small minority of rogue landlords, without burdening the whole sector with unnecessary costs.”
The Prime Minister has been drawn into debate on the future for the PRS as well. Pressed by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn to introduce a system of rent controls, David Cameron categorically ruled the idea out, arguing that it would lead to “massive decline in the private rented sector”. What was needed, he said, was “a competitive system for private sector renting”.
The RLA has given oral evidence to two Parliamentary select committee inquiries. The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is in the process of looking at the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms on housing as well as the private rented sector more generally, including looking at regulation and rent levels.
Ed Jacobs is the RLA’s public affairs consultant. Email Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.