The last full calendar year before the General Election begins with an increasing focus on how the private rented sector should be regulated.
Prior to the Christmas recess, a Conservative member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Bob Blackman MP raised concerns about standards of properties in the sector as well as a need, he argued, for tenants to be provided with greater protection and security both in the length of their contracts and assurances that they can raise concerns about their landlords without facing eviction. His concerns over standards were shared by the Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, in the same debate.
Their comments are just a few that have sparked wider interest in the issue of regulation, which has included the Liberal Democrat MP, Mike Thornton, using a Westminster Hall debate to urge Ministers to introduce mandatory electrical safety checks in the private rented sector, and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Think Tank calling for greater regulation to enable the sector to cope with a potential influx of east European migrants.
This interest in seeking higher standards comes as the Government has announced the allocation of £4 million worth of funding for twenty three local authorities to address what the Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins MP, has dubbed “unscrupulous Scrooges” who, he said, afflict too many tenants.
During its first meeting with the new Shadow Housing Minister, Emma Reynolds MP (above), the RLA outlined its belief that a national register of landlords would do nothing to address those criminal landlords operating under the radar and argued against measures to liberalise the licensing regime.
RLA Chairman, Alan Ward, outlined in extensive detail the Association’s proposals for co-regulation under which an industry run accreditation scheme would take those landlords who make themselves known out of local authority control, thereby freeing Environmental Health Departments to better use finite resources to identify and root out willfully criminal landlords.
Ms Reynolds was also interested to hear about the RLA’s proposals to boost the supply of new homes by providing better support for individual landlords to develop new homes on small plots of unused land that can often became magnets for anti-social behaviour and fly tipping.
With the General Election now less than 18 months away, RLA members can play an invaluable role in raising important issues with their own local MPs and councils. For further advice and assistance, please email me at email@example.com.
In Wales meanwhile, the Government has published its much anticipated Housing Bill, including provisions for a mandatory national register of all private sector landlords in Wales.
The RLA’s Director for Wales, Douglas Haig was across all major broadcast and trade media outlining the RLA’s concerns with the proposals which will be pursued further as AMs begin detailed consideration of the Bill.
Ed Jacobs is the RLA’s Government and public affairs consultant. Email Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.