The RLAs opposition to a mandatory national landlord register was mentioned during a debate on the subject on Wednesday.
MPs debated Labour MP Phil Wilson’s proposal to introduce a mandatory national landlord register, to help to tackle the issue of landlords who neglect their properties.
Mr Wilson opened the debate by stating that while the ‘majority of private landlords are responsible’, there are a small minority that are not responsible.
The MP for Sedgefield, Durham then went on to express his concerns over the effectiveness of selective licensing to tackle rogue landlords in the private rented accommodation in his own constituency.
Mr Wilson acknowledged that while some selective licensing schemes across the county of Durham have been introduced with ‘some success’, they can be ‘administratively burdensome’. Of the council’s accreditation scheme, Mr Wilson said that this only attracts good landlords because it is voluntary, therefore a mandatory registration scheme would be more effective because it places the onus on the landlords.
After Mr Wilson presented the Bill, Sir Christopher Chope MP, the Chair of the APPG for the PRS, spoke to outline his opposition to national mandatory licensing.
In his address, Mr Chope quoted from the briefing that he had received from the RLA on the The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill. The Bill, which the RLA supports, has its second reading tomorrow (Friday).
Majority of landlords are responsible
Mr Chope opposed the implementation of a National Mandatory Landlord Register, saying: “The RLA shares dismay at there being bad landlords, and it recognises that by far the majority in this country are responsible and good landlords, and that the last thing they need is another stealth tax placed upon them, which is what he [Phil Wilson MP] is proposing.”
Mr Chope said that in the cases of criminal landlords, every facility should be made available to ensure that tenants can get proper redress against them. The MP for Christchurch, then quoted the results of a Freedom of Information request that was made by the RLA in 2016, which revealed that out of the 296 councils in England and Wales that responded, there were just 467 prosecutions that were made, which on average is 1.5 per council. In the same year, councils received 105,359 complaints regarding landlords.
Mr Chope said that this information demonstrates that “although the responsibility lies with councils, they are not fulfilling it, adding that a National Register would “impose on councils the additional burden of maintaining a register of landlords and then carrying out enforcement against those who have not signed it.”
Important to note: This was a Ten Minute rule Bill, which means that it is not set to become law. The Bill will not get any further readings.
Why the RLA is opposed to a National Mandatory Landlord Register
The RLA is opposed to a national mandatory landlord register because it is expensive and good landlords will have to pay to be on in, while the minority of criminal landlords will continue to operate under the radar. Also, the government already has access to all the data that it needs to produce such a register already, for example landlords who on the gas safe register.
The RLA also echos the view of Mr Wilson when it comes to Selective Licensing. It believes that criminal landlords will continue to operate under the radar while law abiding landlords face the financial pressure of obtaining often costly licenses.
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.