On 4th March 2014 House of Commons MPs will be discussing the private rented sector (PRS). The Residential Landlords’ Association has written a document urging Government to target criminal landlords before they have the chance to provide sub-standard accommodation to tenants.
The RLA document, titled “Rooting out criminal landlords – regulation that works”, examines the root of the problem, alternatives available, and how these alternatives would improve standards.
Local authorities and councils have hundreds of powers at their disposal to regulate the private rented sector within their jurisdictions. However, even though some Councils target criminal landlords – sometimes referred to as ‘rogues’, but are in reality criminals and should be labelled as such – and substandard property standards, they often end up burdening good landlords with licence fees and other charges. These costs may trickle down to tenants potentially pushing them out of affordable accommodation and into substandard properties and unscrupulous criminal landlords.
An unfortunate statistic is that 70 per cent of councils in the UK have had an eight per cent budget decrease for environmental health services which will factor into them trying new schemes such as additional HMO and selective licensing programmes.
The Residential Landlords’ Association is against these licensing schemes in general and responds to any and all consultations that we become aware of. If you are in an area considering, or consulting on licensing schemes please contact RLA campaigns by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatives include measures as simple as a tick box on council tax forms for tenants to indicate they are in privately rented accommodation if a council wants to know where these properties are.
Other alternatives include the RLA’s arguments for ‘Co-regulation’ which includes a system of accreditation, ‘branding – to help tenants find good landlords and properties – and independent adjudication services to help resolve disputes.
The RLA also champions tenant education to empower them of their rights and responsibilities. If a tenant knows what sort of questions to ask and how complaint procedures work, coupled with accreditation, there will be improved relationships in tenancy agreements.
You can read the RLA document ‘Reining in regulation’ by clicking here. The document outlines the RLA’s ‘two path approach’ to regulating the PRS.